3rd Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– In a telegram from South Australia appearing in to-day’s newspapers, it is stated that the practice followed at Port Adelaide during the last twelve months in regard to Customs entries has been found somewhat unsatisfactory, and a return to the old system is asked for, subject to the modifications necessary to check the possibility of frauds such as were recently discovered being again perpetrated. On the 2nd October last,Iasked the Minister of Trade and Customs whether entries might not bemade and checked before the reporting of the vessels carrying the goods to which they referred, and he told me thata trial of that system would be given, and that, if it were found to work satisfactorily, it would be made permanent. I now ask him whether any- ‘ thing has been done in the direction of complying with the request which I then voiced for the agents and importers of Port Adelaide. A large deputation had previously waited on the Minister in connexion with the matter.
– I received at Adelaide a deputation on this subject, and it has since been engaging my attention. When the honorable member asked this question in October last, a trial was being given to the new system, and I deemed it advisable to extend the period of probation. The Department is anxious to give every facility for the passing of entries without the removal of any safeguard against leakage or frauds on the revenue, and I shall be glad to ascertain how the matter stands, and let the honorable and learned member know later the result of my inquiry.
Mr. Beale’s Report
– Has the Prime Minister any objection to laying on the table all the papers connected with’ the appointment of Mr. Beale as Royal Commissioner to inquire into certain matters affecting the use of drugs, and the papers connected with the publication of his report?
Dismissal of Militiamen, Adamstown - Removal of Rifle Butts from wllliamstown- victorian easter Encampment.
– Has the Minister of Defence any objection to laying on the table all the papers relating to the dismissal of some militiamen in connexion with a dispute which occurred on the Adamstown range in the Newcastle district ?
– If papers are laid on the table of the House, it is difficult for the Department to regain possession of them; but I am willing that the papers asked for shall be laid on the table of the Library.
– That will do.
– Has the Minister noticed that it is rumoured in the newspapers that the Premier of Victoria is taking into consideration the removal of the rifle butts fromWilMamstown to a less-populated locality ? Is there any truth in that rumour?
– Beyond what I have seen in the newspapers, I have no knowledge. No representations on the subject have been made to the Department.
– Have arrangements been made for increasing the duration of the Easter encampment in Victoria from four to six days?
– The Government have determined that the Victorian Forces shall have an opportunity to encamp for six days.
– I desire to ask the Minister of Defence whether he proposes to pay the men who attend the forthcoming six days’ camp in respect of the extra days even though they have previously put in the time necessary to entitle them to their annual militia pay of £6 3s. ?
– The Government cannot extend the time unless the usual pay conditions are observed. That would appear to me to follow automatically upon the statement which I have already made. But the honorable member desires to know whether men who have already received payment of the full amount to which they are entitled, will receive additional pay?.
– I should like to think over that question, but I can assure the honorable member that the right thing will be done. .
– I wish to know from the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs, why public works, for which money has been voted, are not carried out more speedily.My constituents at Northam have written to tell me that great inconvenience is felt there because, although an appropriation was made by Parliament six or seven months ago for the construction of a new post office, the work has not yet been carried out. To my mind, the delay is unreasonable. A small work like this should have been put in hand in much shorter time. I ask the Minister to inquire as to the cause of the delay, and to expedite matters as much as possible.
– The causes of delay which have come under my notice are various. In the last instance, it was due to our dependence on the Works Departments of the States, whose officers, when there is pressure, naturally give preference to State undertakings. If the right honorable member will give notice of his question, I shall be glad to obtain a fuller reply.
– I shall be satisfied if the Prime Minister will cause an inquiry to be made into the matter.
– I wish to direct the attention of the Prime Minister to the fact that increments which have been overdue to public servants more than ten months have not yet been paid, because the Estimates have not been passed. Will he see that they are paid without further delay?
– The remedy is to pass the Estimates as soon as possible ; but, as that may take a week or two, I shall inquire whether the delay cannot be avoided in some other way.
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers -
Ordinances of 1906-
No. 4. - Royal Commissions.
No. 5. - Land; and Regulations thereunder.
No. 6. - Liquor Law Amendment.
No. 7. - Quarantine Amendment.
No. 8. - Inflammable Oils.
No. 9. - Executions Amendment.
No. 10. - Supplementary . Appropriation 1906-7.
Ordinances of 1907 -
No. 1. - Native Labour.
No. 2. - Public Service.
No. 3. - Native Children, Custody and Reformation.
No.4. - Criminal Code Amendment.
No. 5. - Post and Telegraph.
No. 7. - Jury.
No. 8. - Appropriation 1907-8.
No.9. - Supplementary Appropriation 1904- 5.
No. 10. - Supplementary Appropriation 1905- 6.
No. 11. - Removal of Natives.
No. 13. - Native Children, Custody and Reformation.
No. 14. - Sandalwood and Rubber.
No. 15. - Animals Restriction.
That such of the said Papers as have not already been printed, be printed.
Excise Act - Drawback Regulation No. 50 Amended (Provisional) - Statutory Rules 1908, No. 33.
– The paper I have just laid upon the table is a copy of all the Papuan Ordinances passed since September, 1906, the period when the new Constitution for the Possession came into operation, with the exception of No.12 of 1907, which has not yet been assented to. A number of these Ordinances have already been printed by order of. Parliament, and, so that honorable members may have in their possession a complete and consecutive volume of all the Ordinances of Papua, I moved for the printing of the remainder, to which the House has agreed.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister whether he has observed in the report of the proceedings of the New South Wales Parliament a statement by Mr. Wade to the effect that he expects the Premiers of the different States at the forthcoming Conference will unite with a view to warding off attacks made upon the States by the Commonwealth? If so, does he know of any attacks which have been so made, and whatis the nature of them ?
– I am not aware of any attacks made or proposed to be made, upon the States by the Commonwealth Government. I am aware, however, that a readjustment of certain financial arrangements will require to be considered which may affect the States Governments and the States Legislatures in their relation to the Commonwealth Government and the
Commonwealth Legislature. But the people of the States and the Commonwealth, being one, are quite strong enough and wise enough to take care that their interests are not sacrificed.
– I desire to direct the attention of the Prime Minister tothe following extract from an article published in the Sydney Morning Herald of Saturday last : -
The truth is - and it is not a pleasant truth - that the Japanese own Thursday Island in everything but name. Practically the whole of the pearling fleet is in their hands. Those boats which are not owned by Japanese are manned by them, and the divers are allowed to keep all the pearls they find, after first of all receiving £80 a ton for their shell. Twentythree thousand pounds a year is the average value of the pearls obtained, and practically every penny of this goes home to Tokio or Nikko, as well as the £80 per ton for the shell. Australian dealers buy most of the pearls, so that it may be said Australia pays the Japanese over£20,000 per annum for her own pearls. Of the uses to which that£20,000 may be put some of these days there is no need to speak, for every one knows.
I should like to know whether the Prime Minister’s attention has been directed to the above paragraph, whether, to his knowledge, the facts are as stated, and whether proper steps are being taken to see that the provisions of the. Immigration Restriction Act are rigidly enforced?
– I have noticed the paragraph in question, -and, speaking from memory, the facts, as stated, are substantially true. The Immigration Restriction Act is being rigidly enforced. The condition of things referred to in the article quoted by the honorable member exists because of the State law in regard to the working of the pearl fisheries. The disposition of the pearls and any advantages gained by the Japanese are not under Commonwealth control.
– Some time ago I asked the Minister of Trade and Customs whether reductions had been made in the price of harvesters in accordance with the Act of 1906, which provides for a reduction of £5 in 1907, and of another £5 in 1908. He told me then that he would make an inquiry. I now ask him if he has any further information on the subject?
– The Treasurer tells me that harvesters are selling in his electorate for£65 each, and we know that there was, in the first instance, a general reduction in price. In October last an investigation was made throughout the States as to prices charged for Australian stripper-harvesters and drills, and it was found that the cash prices charged were in accordance with the Act. No single complaint has reached the Department of any overcharge. It may be mentioned that the Act specially provides for cash prices. Most of the sales are on credit, with various conditions as to the manufacturer keeping the machines in repair, &c, for varying periods. In regard to credit sales, we are advised the Act does not apply. Further investigation is now about to be made in regard to the reduction in prices which the Act provides should become operative from 1st February, 1908.
– Ninety-five per cent. of the. sales are on credit. Do I understand the Minister’s answer to mean that unless farmers are prepared to pay cash for their harvesters, the manufacturers of these machines are at liberty to charge any price that they may think fit, notwithstanding the Act passed by this Parliament in 1906?
– We are advised that in regard to credit sales the Act does not apply.
-So that the manufacturers can charge just what they please.
– In that case the law is a farce and a sham.
– I presume that when the Act in question was passed, the Government had in their minds that the price to be paid for these machines was to be considered as either cash or credit. In other words, they had no intention of asking Parliament to pass a measure, regulating the price of these machines, which would be utterly useless?
– Methinks that the honorable member presumes too much in venturing to state what was in the mind of the Government, and in saying that the Act has proved to be utterly useless. If he knew anything about the matter, he would know that quite the reverse has been the case. Section 4 of the Act reads -
If the Governor-General is satisfied that the cash prices at which stripper harvesters and drills manufactured in Australia are sold exceed the prices hereunder set out he may by proclamation reduce the rate of duty specified in the schedule in respect of stripper harvesters, but so that the reduction shall not reduce the rate of duty below one-half the rate of duty imposed by this Act.
– I asked whether that was. all that the Government intended to accomplish when the Act was passed?
– Certainly we intended to accomplish that which the Act sets out.
– Then the Government fooled the House.
– As a matter of fact the prices of harvesters, both for cash and credit, have been reduced as far as we know, but further inquiries are being made.
– Then the Government do not know very much.
– I said as far as we know.
– The knowledge of the Government is very limited upon that score.
– Of my own knowledge I am aware that in New South Wales the prices of these machines, both for cash and credit, have been reduced. But any honorable member ought to know that when certain risks have to be taken, very frequently the prices charged differ from those which are charged for spot cash.
– I desire to ask the Minister whether it is not possible to fix a price for cash, plus so much for terms of credit, so that persons purchasing these machines will know the amount that is being charged them for credit?
– It certainly would be possible to do that. But: the Department can only carry out the provisions of the law.
– I should like to ask the Prime Minister whether he is prepared to introduce a Bill amending the Customs Tariff (Agricultural Machinery) Act of 1906 by limiting the price at which stripperharvesters may be sold upon credit terms?
– It will probably be open to the Government to reconsider the whole question of these Excise duties at a comparatively early date, and’ to adapt its proposals to what we shall then know ofthe exact constitutional powers of the Parliament. The proposal to fix a credit price is practically impossible, sincethe credit may be for three, six, or twelve months, or for two or three years. The terms are’ also coupled in many cases with conditions as to repairing and replacing. There are a variety of alternatives. I think that the request that a cash price should be stated is perfectly fair, and it can be readily carried out. It is also part of the policy of the Government to provide by law that the price charged to customers, both for stripperharvesters and all other implements or goods to which the new protection can be applied, shall be determined upon a fair basis, and that consumers shall be protected against extortionate charges. That will apply to other things that are brought within the scope of the new protection.
– I wish to ask the Prime Minister whether it would not be possible to adjust the cash and credit prices in proportion to the rates prevailing before the passing of the Act?
– That is legally pos sible, but I am informed that the manufacturers of these implements trade on differing conditions, and with different classes of customers, and that the imposition of one particular system upon them might involve a very serious business disturbance. There is no legal difficulty, but there may be practical difficulties in the way.
– I would ask the Prime Minister what the Government propose to do if the manufacturers refuse to sell for cash, electing to deal with their customers on the deferred payment system ?
– I can scarcely imagine a seller refusing cash.
– A manufacturer would be glad to wait a month for his money if by doing so he would secure an additional £10 for his machine.
– Then there is the question–
– Honorable members are very disorderly in interrupting both those who are asking questions and those who are replying to them. Questions have to be put and answered without debate, and it is destructive of the whole purpose of questions without notice that interjections should be made, and that the House should thus be prevented from hearing the questions put or the answers to them.
– I would say, comprehensively both as to this and to every other question relating to this matter, that the propositionof the Government is that there shall be an impartial authority able to scrutinize all departures from the fair practices of trade. Only by some such device, and not by the mechanical opera tion of an Act, can we hope to have administered equitably the system which we desire to introduce.
– As the Prime Minister proposes under the new law that not only prices, but conditions of labour, shall be fixed, will he also be prepared to fix a reasonable profit for the manufacturer? The manufacturer seems to be the only person not taken into account.
– The proposal is that the Excise Board, on the best evidence that is laid before it, shall allow any profit consistent with fair wages and prices. It will provide for the administration of justice in relation to industrial affairs, and that justice must cover the necessary inducement to manufacturers to manufacture, as well as to consumers to purchase.
– I should like to ask the Minister of Trade and Customs, who, I understand, is charged with the administration of this Act, a further question. He has already told us that he knew when the Bill was before us that transactions of the kind referred to were to be upon a strictly cash basis. Does he wish us to infer that he knew in his own mind, when this legislation was being dealt with, that it could be easily evaded?
– Certainly not. The honorable member has misquoted my remarks. In dealing with the question put to meas to the basis of cash price, I read to the House section 4 of the Act. What is the use of the honorable member asking me questions as to what I had in my mind at the time this legislation was before us, when he presumes a knowledge of what I ought to have had in mind at the time? All I can say is that, so far as I can judge, only one construction can be placed upon the words, “If the GovernorGeneral is satisfied that the cash prices “ which appear in section 4.
– Did not the honorable member know in his own mind that the scheme could be easily evaded by the charging of other prices?
– I did not have in my mind at the time the idea that the matter could be easily evaded. If there is any evidence of a deliberate attempt to evade the law steps will be taken to deal with those responsible for it.
– I have a further question on this subject to put to the Minister of Trade and Customs. If it can be shown that, say, a dozen manufacturers are charging more than £65 cash for their machines, whilst the remaining manuf acturers are charging only £65 cash, what action will he be able to take under the Act?
– If a case of that kind arises, I hope that I shall be able to deal with it.
– I am afraid that the Minister will not be able to deal with it.
asked the Minister of
Defence, upon notice -
– The question should rightly have been addressed to the Minister of Home Affairs, whose Department has the control of these matters. I have, however, seen the Minister, and he informs me that as to question No. 1 there appears to have been some misapprehension. If such terms as are indicated in the first question be offered, the Minister will favorably consider them.
asked the PostmasterCeneral , upon notice -
Kaisha) receive any poundage or payment from the Postal Department for carriage of mails between Australia and Japan or any other place? 2 If so, what were the amounts of such subsidies for the years 1905, 1906, 1907?
– The replies to the honorable member’s questions are as follow -
Motion (by Mr. Groom) proposed -
That this Bill be now read a third time.
– Ido not propose to weary the House with a lengthy speech. The Opposition has endeavoured, without success, to minimize some of the very drastic proposals of this measure, but the Government, in this instance, as in many others, have had behind them a majority prepared to impose upon the minority whatever conditions they chose to suggest. In this respect they have succeeded in producing an instrument which, in its penalties, sanctions, and powers, goes far beyond anything that has been attempted in a British community I do not pretend to say that legislation, severe and unusual, is not required to meet the far-reaching evils of industrial trusts ; but the measures should receive the fullest possible consideration, with a desire to make their provisions such as will afford a possibility of administering them as Parliament intended them to be administered. We have not been able to modify any of the drastic provisions in this Bill; but there is the one comfort that, judging by our experience, there is not the slightest danger of those provisions being put into full force. None of the provisions of similar legislation passed by this Chamber have ever been fully operative; and it is just about time for honorable members, in the Labour corner particularly, who are constantly clamouring for legislation, such as we have passed in recent years, to begin to realize that it is simply a political placard, and is intended for nothing more. As shown by the series of questions this afternoon, it is found that the provisions of such measures cannot be enforced in their entirety - that they can be evaded by the easiest of all methods.
– The same could be said of any of this legislation.
– I venture to say that if the careful consideration that ought to be given were given to such measures, they would leave Parliament in a much more effective form. But where there is a majority who sit tight, and pass anything that the Government propose, and a minority, who can only beat their Reads against a stone wall of unreason and obstinacy, we have not the conditions for achieving the best and most effective legislative results. We are becoming aware of the effects of these measures every day. We are now waiting patiently for the pronouncement of the High Court on the legality of all this class of legislation.
– The honorable member seems to be rejoicing over the fact.
– No, I am not.
– Then, why the smile?
– Surely I may smile? Does the honorable member wish me to cry ? If anybody, the honorable member ought to cry ; and he certainly looks as if he would like to. If I were in the honorable member’s place, and had to take full responsibility for all these measures, I should not feel disposed to laugh, but, rather, to hide my head. The honorable member is engaged in fooling the workers outside with this class of legislation.
– Order ! I do not think an honorable member ought to say that another honorable member is attempting to “ fool “ persons, either inside or outside the House.
– I think you are quite right, Mr. Speaker ; the expression was too strong. I desire to say, as emphatically as I am able, that the sooner the people outside, who are particularly interested in this class of legislation, recognise that the effect is to prevent them achieving the expected results, the better it will be for their peace of mind, and for that of everybody concerned. At any rate, we have been turning out legislation of this kind for several years, and there is not one of the measures that the Ministry can, or dare, put into full and effective operation. This, of course, only makes us less careful as to the tremendous powers the Government seek, since we know, from experience, that they are never likely to come into full effect.
.- It is rather unusual to have a discussion on the third reading of a Bill, but questions have been raised this afternoon, which it would be well to discuss on this motion. I supported the original Act, which failed to attain its purpose, and I have supported the Government in the legislation intended to invest them with further powers. Trusts and combines I regard as a severe and growing disease, and I have strongly supported and voted for giving the Administration the fullest possible powers in order to find a remedy. I believe in the drastic treatment of trusts and combines ; and, like those who support legislation of this character, I desire to see it carried into effect. The honorable member for Parramatta certainly made a strong appeal to those of radical tendencies, to either drop measures of this kind or make them effective.’ If we are going beyond our constitutional, powers, the sooner we know the fact the better; because I cannot conceive a more humiliating position than that in which we have been placed during the last two or three years, in regard to measures which have missed fire, either because they were not properly drafted, or because they were unconstitutional. Either those who are responsible for the drafting are not skilful enough, or the Attorney-General is not “up to” the duties of his position.
– Only one clause that we have passed has been held to be unconstitutional.
– The Attorney -General is quite right as to that; but it cannot be denied that several measures have broken; down.
– Will the honorable member mention one?
– I may point to the Excise Tariff (Agricultural Machinery) Act.. Mr. Joseph Cook. - And very few of the powers of the Commerce Act are being put into operation. The Government cannot, and dare not, use them.
– I supported the Commerce Act, and, if offences are being committed in trading operations, the Government ought to put its provisions into force. There is no’ doubt that these failures give strength to those who are opposed to all legislation of the kind. The disease inhere, and drastic treatment is required; and I have no desire to escape any responsibility for the ineffectiveness of the means proposed - I desire no “placard”; on the contrary, I desire effective legislation. We are placed in a very humiliating position when, session after session, we have to introduce amending Bills in order to put original Acts into working order. It was thought that when the Federal Parliament was established, it would be an example to the States Parliaments, in that its legislation would be as nearly humanly perfect as possible; it was not anticipated that the Federal Parliament would establish a record for the quantity so much as for the quality of its legislation. I would sooner see the House devote itself to one perfect measure in a session, than to passing four or five others which prove to be unworkable. Those who are bitterly opposed to legislation of the kind, may find some pleasure in the fact that some of the measures have proved inoperative, though I can scarcely think that even they can really be gratified at such results. I admit that the Attorney-General has a very difficult task to perform, but, from the trouble that has arisen, I am inclined to think that he is not sufficiently well supported - that the Crown Law officers and the draftsmen are not up to their work. In the States Parliaments amending Bills to correct mistakes are not constantly being introduced, as they are in this Parliament. I do not say that the Attorney-General or his officers are responsible in this case, but blame is attachable somewhere.
– If legislation of this character is not passed, the people of Australia will soon be in a position in regard to trusts similar to that of the people of America.
– I am not dealing with that aspect of the question; I am merely urging that greater care should be taken to make our legislation effective for the purposes aimed at. I object to the continual passing of legislation which is ineffective. No better weapon could be placed in the hands of our opponents than instances of parliamentary bungling, such as we have seen in connexion with this and other matters, because they give ground for the gibe that Parliament is merely fooling the public. Personally, I have no desire to give the opponents of legislation reasons for ridiculing it, and the Labour Party ought to feel especially humiliated when, time after time, legislation which it has supported breaks down, and requires the introduction of amending Bills.
– Any honorable member who will not take the responsibility for what he does here is not in his right place; but the best answer to the charges against the Labour Party made by the honorable member for Parramatta was the speech of the honorable member for Dalley. He is in entire accord with the Bill, and so are members of the Labour Party ; not because we think that it will do complete justice between small traders and large combines - we do not consider that possible - but because we regard it as a check on large combines. The main object of the Bill is to prevent the ruin of small traders by large organizations. If we do not pass legislation of this kind, Australia will soon be in the position of other countries in regard to trusts. The honorable members for Parramatta and Dalley, however, spoke as if, in the State Parliament of New South Wales, they had had no experience of amending Bills. I do not think that there has ever been a session of a State Parliament in which an amending Bill has not been introduced. Land legislation was one of the earliest subjects lot parliamentary action, and we know how frequently amending Land Bills have been introduced.
– Only every five or six years in New South Wales.
– Many amending Bills have been introduced, not because of the failure of the original Act, but to extend its policy.
– It must be remembered that, whereas the State Parliaments, subject to certain qualifications, have practically as much power as the Imperial Parliament, our legislative efforts are “cribbed, cabined, and confined “ by a written Constitution which strictly limits our powers. This makes it necessary to walk warily, lest the High Court may tell us that we have exceeded our powers.
– In the United States of America, after the lapse of a century, these difficulties arise.
– Yes; though the United States Congress is, to some extent, so far as the conflict of powers goes, in the same position as this Parliament. But we must accept responsibility for out actions, and when we find that the country is likely to be injured, we must take every step possible to prevent it. As for the cheap sneer that the Labour Party has supported the Bill, although believing that it will not do what is desired, my reply is that we are doing the best we can, and that if larger powers can be wielded, I, for one, shall be glad to do more. I cheerfully take responsibility for supporting this or any other measure to deal with an evil which has brought the Government of the largest and most powerful nation in the world almost to its knees. Seeing that the President of the United States of America has appealed again and again to Congress”, and to the rightthinking people of the country, to deal with the ruffians in finance and commerce who are a curse to it, it is not too early for this Parliament to take steps to protect this young Federation from similar attacks by avaricious syndicates.
.- I do not take as much exception as has been taken by other speakers to the action of the Government in introducing an amending Bill to give them further powers, because’ this was probably forced upon them by the fact that we have made a legislative departure, the result of which could not be foreseen. Therefore, I stated my readiness to support the second reading, expressing the hope that some of the drastic clauses in the Bill would be altered in Committee. There has been an almost hysterical outcry against combinations said to be opposed to the public interest and in restraint of trade. With some knowledge of the business relations of the Commonwealth, I protest that nothing exists here in the nature of what they have in America. It would have been better had a straightforward statement been made as to the combinations aimed at.
– I mentioned that the operations of five or six combines have formed the subject of inquiry by the Department, mentioning the trades concerned.
– The honorable member did not give the names.
– They were confidential.
– There are combinations in the Commonwealth whose operations are of the greatest benefit to the consumers, because they result in the reduction of prices. I have risen to enter, my protest against several of the provisions of the Bill, particularly some in clause 4. In my opinion, such legislation will be disadvantageous to “the prestige of Parliament. The position of affairs in Australia does not justify ‘the introduction of the un-British principle which underlies some of the procedure provided for, and I should be failing in my duty did not I enter a personal and emphatic protest against it.
– The honorable member for Wide Bay seems to think it well to accept legislation, whether effective or not, so long as it professes to go in a certain direction.
– I regard the Bill as a reasonable attempt to meet a difficult situation, and to remove injustice.
– Several of our Acts have failed, notwithstanding that warning had been given that they were, ineffective. Government supporters, whether Ministerialists* or’ members of the Labour Parly, should not be ready to. support legislation merely because it is proposed by the Government ; they should listen to the objections raised against it, consider the dangers pointed out, and pay regard to the possibility of failure, trying to improve measures in view of the criticism passed on them. If they did so, less of our legislation would be ineffective.
– We do that.
– The condition of the benches ofttimes proves what I say. Some pf the flaws which amending Bills have been introduced to remedy were pointed out. when the original legislation was before Parliament, which is evidence that sufficient attention is not given by honorable members to the criticism of Govern- ment measures.
– I myself pointed out flaws; in the original Bill.
– The honorable member may have made proposals for more effective legislation which may not have received attention. I do say that too oftenhonorable members blindly follow the proposals submitted by the Government instead of considering upon its merits every proposal brought forward. I wish now toalllude to a matter of procedure in connexion with this measure. As honorable members. will recollect, opposition was offered from this side of the chamber to thesuspension pf the Standing Orders yesterday to enable the third reading of the Bill to be taken forthwith. I think I may say for the deputy leader of the Opposition that his refusal to assent to that course of procedure was based upon the fact, first, that no object was to be served by at once passing the Bill, as the Senate is not in a position todeal with it, and, secondly, that there hari been none of that courteous consultationwhich should take place between the Government and the Opposition when it is desired to suspend the Standing Orders. Those Orders are intended for the protection of the minority in Parliament, anr! unless there is very good reason for suspending them that protection should be studiously maintained.
– In the interests of the public.
– In the interests of the public and of the minority. The Standing Orders are intended to prevent any Government possessing the requisite numbers from forcing measures throughParliament without affording) honorable members an opportunity for adequatelyconsidering -them. In speaking in this; way I am not speaking merely for the Opposition of to-day. That Opposition will disappear in one -way or another. It mayfade out of existence, or it may occupy theGovernment benches, in which case there would be a new Opposition. But in the best interests of parliamentary government it is desirable that we should be afforded? an opportunity of knowing the reasons why the suspension of the Standing Orders isdemanded, and of urging counter reasons if” we think that their suspension is not justified. I hope that the House will preserve the practice of refusing to suspend those Orders without adequate reason in the interests, not only of this Parliament, but of future Parliaments, and in the interests, not only of this Opposition, but of future Oppositions.
– I rise for the very simple purpose of pointing out that the statements which have been made without reflection and in the heat of debate in regard to this measure are entirely without foundation. The particular illustration cited by the deputy leader of the Opposition in connexion with the need for amending legislation was the Customs Tariff (Agricultural Machinery) Act of 1906, to which reference was made in certain questions put to Ministers prior to the motion for the third reading of this Bill being called upon. The statement directly made by the honorable member, and a number of times implied by him, was that the language of the section which determines the price of stripper-harvesters on the basis of their cash value was not what had been originally proposed, and that it had in fact deceived those honorable members who had supported that Bill. I have made a hasty reference both to the debates-
– I rise to a point of order. I made no reference to the Customs Tariff (Agricultural Machinery) Act except in the most incidental way, knowing very well that I could not do so upon the motion for the third reading of this Bill. I hope, therefore, that upon the motion that is now under consideration the Prime Minister will not te permitted to make a speech in defence of that measure.
– Is that a point of order? Mr. Joseph Cook. - Yes. The Prime Minister has expressed his intention of proving that all that we have alleged in questions put to Ministers this afternoon is wrong.
– Most undoubtedly the Prime Minister would be out of order if he did what the deputy leader of the Opposition suggests that he intends to do. But I did not gather that from the remarks of the Prime Minister. The honorable member for Parramatta distinctly used the Act to which the Prime Minister has referred as an example of legislation enacted which subsequently was not put into operation. I think he said- that the Government did not dare to put it into operation.
– I made that remark in reference to a number of measures, not in reference to that particular measure.
– The honorable member distinctly referred to the Customs Tariff (Agricultural Machinery) Act as one of those measures. Having allowed him to make that statement - which perhaps was scarcely in order - I cannot in fairness refuse to the Prime Minister an opportunity of replying to it.
– What I desire to show is that the illustration chosen by the honorable member was an unfortunate one, inasmuch as it is supported in no particular. Lest this House should be misled in dealing with the third reading of the Bill, now under consideration, by relying upon the illustration which he cited, I am entitled to show that tlie facts are not as stated by him. I- find on reference to Hansard that the first proposal made in connexion with an Excise duty upon stripper harvesters, was made avowedly upon the basis of the cash price charged for those machines, and upon the cash price only. As far as time has permitted me to do so, I have glanced through the debate which took place on that occasion, and I find reference continually made by members of the Opposition, and by other honorable members, to the cash price. T can find no reference to anything else. I have looked at the first draft of the Bill, and I find that it alludes only to the cash price of these machines. Clause 4 pf that Bill, and section 4 of the Act are word for word identical.
– I candidly confess that I never wished to make a distinction.
– So far from this House having been misled by any proposition submitted to it, or by any suggestion that the measure was intended to regulate the credit price of harvesters, I find no proposal to that effect, no amendment to that effect, and no criticism to that effect. From first to last the whole scheme was based upon the cash price of these machines. I can find no reference to anything else.
– That was a blunder oh our part.
– After we have applied Acts, whatever we may say in regard to their sufficiency, or otherwise, it is certainly unfair to suggest that, under such circumstances, the House has been misled- It mav have been mistaken in not going further.
– It is fair to complain that the Government are endeavouring to rush a particular measure through by securing the suspension of the Standing Orders.
– I do not think so. As the honorable member’s object is to impose further restrictions under this Bill, obviously his argument tells against himself.
– The cash price of harvesters, and not the credit price, was accepted as the uniform standard.
– That appeared to be accepted upon every hand.
– It was a blunder.
– I am not prepared to admit that it was a blunder until it has been shown that the credit price can be effectually regulated by an Act without the appointment of some persons specially to decide such matters. With regard to the comments of the honorable member for North Sydney in regard to the need which exists for amending the legislation of this Parliament, I would point out to him that in New South Wales, Victoria, and indeed in every other country outside Australia which has attempted to cope with industrial questions, it has been necessary to introduce amending Acts, and further amending Acts, because they were legislatively breaking entirely new ground. We have to adapt old principles to new circumstances, or to old circumstances, to which they have never previously been applied.
– All the more reason why they should be adequately discussed.
– I do not object to their adequate discussion. But, in viewing today the effect of the very short measure passed by Parliament in 1906, after, perhaps, the most severe struggle ever witnessed in this House -
– There was no struggle to block it.
– The honorable member is making a disorderly interjection in regard to one matter, and I am referring to another. I am speaking of the Customs Tariff (Agricultural Machinery) Act, for the passing of which the honorable member shares no guilt whatever. If, as the honorable member for North Sydney declared, the purpose of the discussion which took place upon that occasion had been to assist the Government to make the Act more effective by marking out its sphere more distinctively, I could admit the force of his remarks to-day. But, seeing that the whole of the energies of honorable members opposite- and of their almost inexhaustible speeches - were directed to other purposes, it is rather sarcastic for the honorable member at this stage to point usto alleged omissions in that measure, seeing that it had to be passed in the teeth of furious and unqualified opposition.
– Nobody upon the other side of the House talked, and so we had to. do our best.
– And nobody could have done better than the honorable member’s best in that way with the object that he had in view.
– Does the Prime Minister mean to argue that it was the intention of Parliament that the manufacturers of harvesters should be able to charge any price that they chose?
– The intention was that the cash price should be fixed by law, and that the credit price would in consequence be adjusted more or less accurately in relation thereto. But when we are criticising parliamentary methods, which have so many defects, surely it is not fair to impugn the expressions used in an Act which was debated upon the very first occasion that it was brought before the House, and which was never criticised in the manner in which it is being criticised now.
– That was simply because the custom that existed was uppermost in the minds of honorable members.
– That does not show that Parliament was deceived or misled, but merely that it did not pass an Act which was as effectual as it might have made it under more favorable conditions-. But I am assured that the Act has been efficient, and that the cash prices fixed by - law are being charged to-day, also that the credit prices have been affected. Under these circumstances, the illustration cited by the honorable member for Parramatta to justify his opposition to the third reading of this Bill does not apply.
.- I am not one of those who blame the Government for having introduced the Australian Industries Preservation Act or this amending Bill. As the Prime Minister has said, this class of legislation is practically a leap in the dark. But I have taken considerable objection to two or three clauses contained in this Bill, to which I have previously referred. As the measure has been drafted on the lines of American procedure, I should like to direct the attention of the Prime Minister to the following cable which appears in to-day’s newspapers -
In the United States House of Representatives yesterday Mr. W. P. Hepburn, Chairman of the Inter-State Commerce Committee, introduced on behalf of the Government a Bill to amend the Sherman Anti-Trust law on the lines indicated in the President’s latest message to Congress.
– The honorable member must realize that in the United States any restraint of Inter-State trade, independent of intent, is unlawful. The amendment referred to is designed, I think, to make certain combines of a beneficent character lawful.
– We all know that there are good, bad, and indifferent combines.
– This Bill will not affect a beneficent combine.
– We may find it necessary to amend this measure on the lines indicated in the paragraph I was quoting when interrupted. The paragraph continues -
The Bill proposes to allow reasonable pooling by railway companies in certain circumstances, and to legalize the formation of trade combinations and trusts.
They are going to legalize them -
The preamble of the Bill declares that it is not intended to prohibit workmen from going on strike-
That cannot be done - or to prevent employers combining to obtain labour on satisfactory terms.
– In the United States some labour combinations have been held to be illegal.
– An attempt under our Conciliation and Arbitration laws to have some labour combines declared illegal has failed. There can be no doubt that we shall require to pass legislation to legalize beneficent trusts. If we are going to experiment in this way - if we are going to take leaps in the dark - we must endeavour to reach solid ground. We are at present in a quagmire, and it will be necessary for us to clearly define what are and what are not legal combines. The spirit of modern trade is entirely in the direction of combination. Men find it necessary to engage in business in a large way, and combines are resorted to in order to eliminate that which has hitherto been regarded as a very good thing. I refer to overcompetition. I wish to direct the attention of the Minister to this phase of the question. Our anti-trust legislation has been largely framed on the American Acts, and the honorable member for Wide Bay has drawn attention to the fact that the President of the United States is calling to his assistance all the powers granted to him to enable him to deal with evil combines. In the circumstances I thought it necessary to point out that we ought to legislate in the interests of beneficent combines and enable them to carry on operations under the most satisfactory conditions.
– It is amusing to listen to the sounding brass and tinkling cymbals of the Opposition, who have declared that the Labour Party are supporting the passing of measures which they do not think go far enough. It is true that we are obtaining from the Government a good many “ skimmed-milk “ Bills, but if the Opposition had their way even those measures would be watered down.
– Who is getting the cream ?
– At present the combines are, but it is the desire of the Labour Party, in supporting this Bill, that the general public shall obtain a fair share of it. Since the Labour Party have not the power to carry such measures as they would like to see enacted, they have to do the next best thing. The charge has been made against us by the Opposition that we make no attempt to improve imperfect measures introduced by the Government. I would remind the House that when the Commerce Bill was under consideration I endeavoured to extend one of the sound principles embodied in it, but, owing to the efforts of the Opposition, was unsuccessful. The Bill as introduced provided that goods entering the Commonwealth should bear a true trade description. I endeavoured to extend that provision to all goods passing from State to State, and to insert in the Bill a further provision that the true trade description should remain on the goods until they reached the consumers. The Opposition, however, voted against my proposition.
– The present Opposition?
– Some of the present members of the Opposition were not then in the House, and perhaps will not be here when we are trying to perfect measures of the kind in question. The Opposition have asserted that although drastic legislation is being passed, it will not be enforced. That will not be the fault of the Labour Party. The Opposition have the remedy . in their own hands. We are the strongest party in the House, and I should like to know whether they are prepared to support us. I do not say that if we were in power we should be able to introduce perfect measures, but we should do our best in that direction,’ and would not hesitate to seek to amend any Act that had proved ineffective. It has been said that since this measure is imperfect we ought not to agree to it. But we can secure effective legislation only by demonstrating to those who send us here that the existing law is defective. The Opposition have insinuated that the Government have no desire to make this legislation effective. I should not like to prefer such a charge against them, but I do not hesitate to say that a good deal of the legislation introduced bv the Ministry has proved ineffective. I believe that in the near future it will be found necessary to amend this Bill. I agree with the honorable member .for North Sydney that we should not vote for the suspension of the Standing Orders to enable a Bill to be passed through all its stages without delay unless there are substantial reasons for doing so. It is admitted, however, that the principal . Act is defective, and that small traders are suffering from the operations of certain combines. That being so, it is our duty to pass this Bill as soon as possible.
– We have assisted the Government before to-day to secure the suspension of the Standing Orders to enable a Supply Bill to be passed through all its stages, and thus to avoid delay in the payment of salaries to public servants.
– Day after day we hear complaints on the part of public servants, and I should certainly support the suspension of the Standing Orders if by doing so I could secure for the public servants referred to by the honorable member for Grey the money that has been owing to them for the last ten months.
– The honorable member at this stage cannot deal with that matter.
– Although I do not think that this Bill will be wholly effective, I believe that the sooner it is tr:ec the better. Every year combines in Australia are becoming more powerful, while the number of small traders is being re duced. The Opposition have had a good deal to say about beneficent combines, but when I appealed to the honorable member for Kooyong to name some of them he declined to do so. Beneficent combines will not be prejudicially affected by this Bill, but the sooner we pass legislation that will enable us- to cope with combines that are prejudicial to the public interest the better.
– I do not propose to occupy the attention pf the House for more than two or three minutes, since I. consider that a debate ona motion for the third reading of a Bill which has been threshed out in Committee usually results in little or no good. Asthis discussion has been launched, however, I shall very briefly address myself to one aspect of the question. I have said before that I think some measure of this kind is necessary, and that some of the powersgiven by the Bill are desirable. I have supported the Government proposal with regard to the onus of proof, since it only shifts on to the- person accused the onus of proof as to matters which are strictly and entirely within his own knowledge. But as the result of the proposal to vest the Government with extremely inquisitorial powers - with the right to ask a man questions as to anything relating to his business - we shall obtain a ‘ machine some forms of which are open to grave objection. In that respect we are going a great deal further than the existing circumstances in Australia warrant. The honorable member for Hindmarsh has said that the Labour Party would make the Bill effective. Provisions such as those to De found in clause 4 are effective in ohe particular direction. They must thoroughly discourage and render timid a very large number of persons who hold capital which would otherwise be devoted to the establishment of industries. What is the position ? At present in Australia a vast amount of money which, in a new country like this, ought to be available for starting industries and giving employment to men out of work, is being hoarded. It is being deposited in banks or invested in safe securities. Arid for what reason? I can give one, although I do not say it is the only reason for this state of affairs. Let any honorable member place himself in the position of a man who has some capital, and thinks of establishing a manufacturing industry. That man, in the first place, says, “ If I am allowed to conduct my factory according to ordinary business methods, I shall be able to make a very fair profit, a profit of perhaps 10, 20, or 25 per cent. I find, however, that, in the first place, I do not know which of some half-dozen tribunals I may have to submit to as to the regulation of wages and conditions, though I should be quite willing to submit to any one of these, tribunals, if I had some security, as to the terms upon which I may conduct my business ; secondly, I find a Government in power who have brought in legislation to fix the prices of the articles I am going to sell, irrespective of the market conditions at the moment; thirdly, the Government propose to introduce legislation limiting the profit which I shall make ; and fourthly, the Government intend to bring in a measure under which, whether I make profits or lose money, and no matter what wages I pay or conditions I observe, every private detail of my business is liable at any moment to be raked up at the will of an irresponsible officer.”
– Is the honorable member not putting the case rather more strongly than it is presented bv the Bill?
– Is the position not plain enough ? I differ from the Labour Party as widely, perhaps, as any member in the House ; and I never conceal the fact ; but, while that ‘is so, we can discuss matters in a friendly way. I ask members of the Labour Party whether they have considered the side of the question I have presented. When they talk about unemployment, have they fully considered whether legislation ofthis character may not be one of the causes which conduce to the shrinking of the whole area of employment?
– it is just as well to starve with this legislation as without it.
– What kind of argument is that? I am in favour of proper, reasonable, and effective legislation in this direction, in accordance with our necessities. I am also in favour of experimental legislation in reference to the fixation of wages, under reasonably secure” conditions, so that a -man may have some kind of certainty as to the tribunal he has to obey.
– Who is to be the judge of the reasonable conditions?
– Some tribunal, but not half-a-dozen tribunals. In addition to all this, a man is told that whatever conditions he observes or whatever wages he pays - however well he may treat his workmen - he shall not be able to maintain the reasonable trade secrecy that he ought to be able to observe in regard to his private affairs - that an officer, irresponsible except to his Minister, may at any moment search his books, make the most private inquiries, and even investigate confidential advice he may have obtained. Such legislation may be rendered necessary at some future time, if. we ever approach anything like the state of things existing in the United States of America.
– Are not the same kind of private investigations made in connexion with the income tax?
– Not to nearly the same extent. Besides such inquiries are absolutely essential to collecting money in the form of an income tax; and there is a great distinction between the two cases. The Income Tax Commissioner is entitled to make certain inquiries for a very de: finite and limited purpose; but under the Bill an officer can demand any information from a man, who, it may be, is obeying the law, paying a fair wage, and honestly carrying on his business in his own way.
– He would not be obeying the law, or these inquiries would not be made.
– That interjection points my argument. All that the Opposition desire is that these inquisitorial powers should not ‘be exercised1 until a prima facie case has been made- out that a man has broken the law. Under such a condition, a man might enter on a new enterprise, reasonably -confident that, until a prima facie case was established, he would not be liable to have his most private concerns investigated by an officer under the direction of the Minister. I do not desire to detain honorable members longer, because it is too late now to make any alteration in the Bill. The interjection of the honorable member for Kennedy shows that he and his colleagues do not fully appreciate the lengths to which this legislation goes; and I simply rose to present one aspect, which, I think, mayhave escaped the attention of my honorable friends in the Labour corner.
.- The honorable member for Flinders has informed us that there is a vast amount of money hoarded, which would be invested were it not for the fact that experimental legislation of the kind now under discussion is being enacted, and thus, from his point of view, raising, a number of difficulties in the way of enterprise.
– I said that that was one of the contributing causes.
– I understood the honorable member to say that it was one of the principal causes.
– Well, I think it is.
– The honorable member went on to say that thisprevention of investment was the cause of vast numbers of people being out of employment. But, if the honorable member had thought for a moment, he would have realized that in the United States, where there is unrestricted opportunity for industrial development, there is a standing army of nearly2,000,000 unemployed. The same condition applies to England and other countries.
– I think that unemployment is the great problem in America.
– It will be seen, therefore, that it is not these legislative restrictions which prevent investment, and thus cause unemployment. The honorable member elaborated his case by urging that a man desiring to enter upon an industry was not in a position to say what wages he should pay. Here in my opinion, is the crux of the whole position. It is that uncertainty as to wages that hasgiven rise to conciliation and arbitration and other industrial legislation. If a man, in commencing an industry, is able to obtain labour at 5 per cent. or 10 per cent. less than is paid by a rival in the same line of business, the latter is forced to come down to a lower level, or be undersold.
– The honorable member mistakes my argument. What I said was that I am. entirely in favour of the regulation of wages, but totally opposed to that regulation being carried out by half-a-dozen different and possibly conflicting tribunals.
– I admit that that puts a different complexion on the question. I desire to show, however, that one of the principal causes of unemployment is the competitive system under which our industries are at present carried on. That system has given rise to two classes in the community - one, the employer, who is trying to get the most work for the least money, and the employe, who is trying to get the most wages for the least work. So long as we have the competitive system, we shall have these antagonistic classes ; and the employer will be constantly on the look out for machinery, in order to cheapen production, with the result of throwing thousands of people out of employment from time to time, and driving them from the skilled to the unskilled labour market.
– Is America not the home of machinery?
– That, I admit This Bill is an attempt to regulate these matters; . and I may here straightforwardly say that I have no faith in the ultimate success of the attempt. It is, I believe, an effort on the part of the Government to do something, but, personally, I believe they will fail in their object. There is only one method by which trusts and combines can be successfully controlled, namely, the nationalization of industries. We realize, however, that this Parliament is not prepared to accept the policy of nationalization ; and, in the meantime, we are content to accept whatever legislation may tend in the direction of regulating these matters.
– I understand that the honorable member and bis party believe only in nationalizing monopolies?
– We shall go further if we can, as the platform of the Labour Party shows.
– The honorable member wishes to make a big Russia of Australia !
– We have arrived. at a stage in the industrial conflict, when questions of this kind must’ be discussed intelligently; and the Labour Party is not to be affected by mere abuse from one side or the other.
– The honorable member started the abuse.
– I think not, but, if I did, I apologize. What led to the introduction of this Bill ? It is, as I say, an effort to regulate certain persons, who are trying to abolish thatvery competition which has been the means ofbringing about unemployment, and which has had such a detrimental effect on our industrial life. Huge monopolies are formed with the object of crushing out all competition, and securing complete control; the existence of such monopolies proves that competition is the great curse of our commercial system.
– The trust abolishes competition, and yet it is a curse?
– The trust does away with competition for the sole purpose of obtaining complete control, and plundering the people generally. If that be not so, what is the object of the trust? The Labour Party and those whom it represents, believe that the only legitimate and honest way to successfully deal with this social cancer is to bring about the nationalization of industries and State control, so that the profits now enjoyed by a few individuals may be shared by the whole community. The position of the leader of the Labour Party on the second reading and this afternoon has been this - that he accepts the Bill in the hope that it may save some of the smaller traders from utter annihilation by trusts and combines.
– Does the honorable member think that a prohibitive Tariff encourages the formation of trusts?
– This is not a fiscal question, and I have had quite enough of the Tariff. The honorable member for Parramatta spoke about attempts to fool the public with empty platitudes.
– The honorable member himself admits that the Bill will do no good.
– I do not consider it ‘ likely to be effective; but as I cannot get the nationalization of industries at present, I accept it as an attempt to do what is desired. The Labour Party has never cloaked its wish to nationalize industries. Its position in that respect has been reiterated by the honorable member for South Sydney repeatedly. We know that in America sixty-three legislative measures have been introduced to deal with trusts, and have failed, and, therefore, it is only reasonable to expect that similar action on our part will be attended by a similar result.
.. - The honorable member for Flinders has told us that he objects to this measure because it is one of a number tending to drive capital from the country. He said that people will not invest money because they have to face Wages Boards.
– He said because of the variety of Wages Boards. .
– He said that finally they had now to face a measure which allows a political officer to investigate the whole of one’s business. The Bill does not give that power, as the honorable and learned member would know had he read it. He referred to its effect in regard to a man just starting business. Can it be said that such a man has it in contemplation to join a combine injurious to the public interest?.
– The honorable member for Flinders was referring to the effect of five or six enactments.
– He said that a man thinking of starting in business would be deterred by this legislation, because it would allow his private affairs to be discovered.
– That is the feeling outside.
– Then it is without good foundation. A man entering upon a law- - ful business has nothing to fear. We have made a distinction between lawful and unlawful trusts. The original Bill, following the Sherman Act of 1890, provided that any person who wilfully, either as principal or agent, entered into a contract,
Dr engaged in a combination, to do my act in relation to trade or commerce in restraint of trade, should be deemed guilty of an indictable offence. But that provision was altered, and under the law as it stands, trusts are unlawful only where there is an intent to restrain trade or commerce to the detriment of the public, or an intent to destroy . or injure by means of unfair competition any Australian industry, the preservation of which is advantageous to the Commonwealth. How could the Bill affect any one who is merely entering upon a business, and who would have no intention of joining a combination in restraint of trade ? Under section 15 of the original Act, a lawful agreement may be lodged with the Attorney-General, and thus secure protection. The inquisitorial powers iri this Bill are less stringent than those given to the Victorian Income Tax Commissioner, who, if he thinks fit, may require any person mentioned, or the public officer of any company, or any person in whose custody or control the same may be - to produce for examination by the Commissioner or by any person appointed by him for that purpose at such time and place as may be appointed by the Commissioner in that behalf any deeds, instruments, books, accounts, trade-lists, stock-sheets, or documents or writings, that may be deemed necessary for any pf the purposes of this Act.
The Comptroller-General may call for theproduction of books only when there has been a complaint on oath that an unlawful combination exists, and he is satisfied that that complaint is well founded. Even then, he can ask only for the production of books and documents relating to the subject matter of the complaint.
– That practically means all the books.
– It would enable him to require the production of the agreement which is the basis of the combination, and of any entries relating to it.
– The Bill also provided that the Comptroller-General might ask any question about anything.
– About anything relating to the alleged offence. That was the original provision.
– That is what is provided now ; the amendment of the honorable member for North Sydney made that clear.
– The effect of the provision was the same before the amendment was made. The amendment was made only for the sake of greater security.
– Is the Bill really for use?
– It is a cheap way of getting popularity, to make it appear that legislation is introduced which it is not intended to use.
– On the second reading of the original’ Bill it was admitted, I think by the Treasurer, that a state of things similar to that existing in America did not exist in Australia, but that it was desirable to take precautions.
– We have investigated very fully the affairs of at least seven combines, and the Bill has been introduced because, although we believe some of them to be unlawful, we have not been able to get evidence to show that they are, because that evidence is entirely in their possession and knowledge.
– If the Department prosecuted, would not the Court require the production of documents?
– No. The Bill gives alternative powers. We have provided that if an averment is made the onus of proof shall be on the defendant.
– What does the AttomevGeneral understand by restraint of trade ?
– There are many decisions as to what constitutes restraint of trade and the meaning of the term is well understood in law. But I shall not attempt to give a definition now.
– The term is used in connexion with the sale of businesses under agreement not to start in opposition.
– Several complete definitions are to be obtained in the United States judgments; but I shall not at this stage review the cases to which I allude. The honorable member for Dalley suggested that our legislation has been often found invalid or ineffective; but the only provision yet held to be unconstitutional is a section of the Arbitration Act. On the whole, the technical drafting of our measures has been equal to that of any of the States. Our officers are thoroughly competent, and have done their best. It is true that at times they have been subjected to extreme pressure due to the exigencies of their work, but we have recently made one or two additions to the staff. Under all the circumstances, they have performed their duties well.
– One of the professors takes quite a different view.
– I should like to know his name.
– I will supply it to the Attorney-General privately.
– All those authorities with whom I have come into contact admit that upon the whole the drafting of our statutes is quite equal to that of the best State statutes. Of course, it is obvious that amending legislation must be introduced from time to time. As society grows and develops changes in the law must take place. Take, for instance, the English bankruptcy law. A few years ago the English Bankruptcy Act was said to be the very best in existence, but at the present time it is being subjected to revision. It is not to be expected that) any human mind can foresee the whole of the ramifications connected with any particular subject. We can only do our best with the knowledge that is at our disposal. Take”, for instance, the growth of the Factories Act in England.
– Even in Victoria.
– Nobody disputes what the Attorney-General is saying.
– The Government have been attacked for having introduced this amending legislation, and I am merely pointing out that our experience in this respect is not new.
– To say that too many amending Bills are introduced does not imply that we should not amend an Act.
– Whenever the operation of a statute shows that it is defective, we shall not hesitate to amend it. I ask honorable members to assent to the third reading of this measure.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
Consideration resumed from 24th March (vide page 9521) :
.-I do not wish to enter any protest against the very large policy of immigration” suggested by the Government, but I think we ought to endeavour to temper” the fervid enthusiasm with which some honorable members approach this subject by the touch of a few cold facts. I do not know why elaborate reports are prepared upon the subject, and why extensive correspondence should take place between the Premiers of the States and the Prime Minister if whatever guidance may be obtained from such reports and correspondence is to be disregarded, and a new policy is to be entered upon. There is no doubt that as Imperial citizens of Australia we are bound to take an interest in the development or the check of immigration to the Commonwealth from other parts of the Empire. Two or three days ago, in looking up the Times of 31st December, 1906, I noticed that a report had been presented by Mr. Coghlan to the New South Wales Government on the subject of emigration. Of course, the Times considered the matter from the Imperial point of view. According to the article in that journal, the report stated that between 1884 and 1904 the total emigration of British subjects and foreigners from British ports had increased from 303,901 to 453,877, but that the proportion directed to Australia and New Zealand had declined from nearly 46,000 to a little over 14,000 - a decline which is somewhat disconcerting from the Imperial point of view. It was further pointed out that during 1904 the actual net emigration to Australia and New Zealand - that means, I take it, the emigration from British . ports - showed an increase of only 5,336. Just about the same period there was some talk of an extensive policy of immigration being entered upon by a concert between the Commonwealth and the various States. Keeping this fact in mind, I noted shortly afterwards that we were cautioned against bringing out certain classes of immigrants. I do not wish to refer to the particular bodies in the United Kingdom who desired to organize emigration of this class, but in one of the reviews it was pointed out that there was a very large number of persons - the emigration of whom was being suggested - who would be utterly useless as new colonists. Take, for instance, the report of the London County Council, which showed that out of 1,212 pupils examined in its schools, 75 per cent. were ineffective and 431 were mentally affected. It does not necessarily follow that because there is a large surplus population ‘in one part of the Empire its introduction into Australia would be of benefit to this country. Of course, Canada has recently been very much favoured by immigrants. I think that last year’s record was 250,000. The Dominion Government have spent about£200,000 in assisting those immigrants, and in addition we know that very large inducements are offered to them by the railway companies. . At present a new Canadian Pacific line-I think it is called the Great Northern line - is being constructed. Necessarily these companies have to import a certain class of labour. So that, taking these facts into consideration, and also the fact which was pointed out in the report of the Agents-General that during the three years ended 1906 about 13,000,000 acres had been taken up in Canada by about 86,000 settlers, it is no wonder that there should have been a very large increase in the number of immigrants arriving there. I believe that the actual number of emigrants to Canada between 1901 and 1906 was 661,000. We know, too, that there has been a very large development in the western provinces. Within four or five years the wheat production has increased six-fold - that is, from 30,000,000 bushels to over 200,000,000 bushels. This enormous increase in production has led to a “ spurt “ in connexion with immigration. But we must also recollect that Canada has not been able to retain its natural increase.In 1900 there were 1,200,000 native-born who had passed over the border, and were living in the United States.
– But during the past few years the exodus has been in the other direction.
– I can only vouch for the facts which I am stating. When I heard honorable members speaking last night with all the enthusiasm which this subject inspires, I thought it would be just as well if we fell back on a few cold facts culled from the English press, and . reports presented during the past three years. Honorable members seem to forget that this matter was discussed between the Prime Minister and the States Premiers two or three years ago. I hold in my hand a parliamentary paper showing that the correspondence commenced with a letter from the Prime Minister on 31st July, 1905. In that letter he asked that the Agents- General might meet monthly in London to discuss matters of common interest to the various Slates - a very proper suggestion. Evidently the Prime Minister thought at that time that .although a High Commissioner had not been appointed - whose position for some years would be chiefly ornamental - we possessed all the machinery necessary for undertaking this work. The suggestion was made in paragraph 4 of his letter that in a collective capacity the Agents-General might be able to give advice as to the best and most economical means of attracting desirable immigrants to Australia. It is a rather curious fact - I suppose it suggests some peculiar psychological feature - that instead of the Premiers of the States saying, “ We like your proposal, and welcome it,” three of them merely said that they could see, and two that there could be, no objection to it. The .Premier of New South Wales, however, in a letter dated the 8th August, 1905, thought that -
Any action taken by your Government in the direction of encouraging immigration which ignores the State concerned is liable to cause serious trouble, as the States have to provide land and employment for persons arriving therein, a-nd I therefore suggest that no change be made in the present practice of allowing each State to take action on its own behalf.
The Prime Minister, however, very properly pressed the matter further, upon the attention of the Premier of New South Wales, and in a letter dated 12th August of that year pointed out that all he proposed was that the Agents-General’ should be asked for advice of a general character, and for advice only. He went on to mention, in a subsequent paragraph, that a well-digested plan of operations was necessary, and that he hoped to secure some guiding advice in this connexion. That, I think, is a fair synopsis of a somewhat lengthy correspondence. Th a subsequent letter, the Prime Minister again drew attention to the fact that he desired co-operation through the Agents-General of the States in a well-devised scheme for inducing immigration. Without’ amplifying the reference, he expressed at the end of his letter of the 23rd August,. 1905, a desire that, adopting the words used at the Conference of State Premiers of February, 1904, they should have a policy which would be “concerted, consistent, and continuous.” That is a somewhat nebulous pOliCY, graced, however, by an attractive alliteration. The Premier of New South Wales fell in with the suggestion, but apparently having seen a copy of the speech delivered by the then Treasurer, the. right honorable member for Swan - a copy of which, I think, the Prime Minister sent to him for perusal - he took exception to the suggestion contained therein, to quote from his letter of 7th September, 1905 -
That the Commonwealth should select immigrants and bring them to Australia on terms to be arranged, and that the States should provide land for them and finance them through the Land Bank. I may remark that there is nothing in my_ letter of 17th August to warrant the assumption that such a proposal would be agreeable to this Government, and my subsequent letter of 25th August was written in order to remove any misapprehension on the subject.
Evidently the then Premier- of New “South Wales viewed with a little doubt the proposal that there should be concerted action of the character suggested by the right honorable member for Swan in his Budget speech. That, however, was the invitation to the ball ; let us see what was done when the dance commenced. On the request of the Prime Minister being transmitted to the Agents- General, through Mr. Coghlan, who then represented,. I think the Commonwealth as well as New South Wales, a memorandum signed by the Agents- General was sent to the Commonwealth Government, and was ordered to be printed on 19th December, 1905.
– Mr.- Coghlan at no time exclusively represented the Commonwealth. Before Captain Collins went Home, our business went through State channels. For instance, defence matters were mainly dealt with through the Agent-General for Victoria, whilst other matters were dealt with through the Agents-General for New South Wales and South Australia. Mr. Coghlan represented the senior State.
– He had some relation with the Commonwealth.
– That is so.
– It does not materially affect the situation.
– It was merely to prevent misconception that I mentioned the position.
– I referred to the memorandum as indicating some official connexion because it was sent to the Commonwealth Government, and was laid on the table of the House. I do not know that the report presented to the Premier of New South Wales, and quoted by the Times, appears amongst our printed records. In the memorandum of the Agents-General reference is made to the somewhat deplorable fact that our rate of increase of population is now only11/4 per cent. per annum. At that rate fifty-six years will elapse before we can have a population of 8,000,000. Had we maintained the by no means “ swell “ rate of increase which occurred during the decade 1881-1890 - an increase of 31/2 per cent. - our population might have doubled in twenty years. I hope the goddess who looks after matrimonial affairs will be a little more watchful over the interests of humanity. Taking the figures quoted by the Agents- General as to the decennial increase, I find that for the decade 1852-61, there was an increase of 520,713. Between 1882 and 1891 there was an increase of 374,097, whilst between 1892 and 1901 there was an increase of only 2,377. For three years, 1902-4, there was an actual loss of 8,104. These statistics are by no means encouraging. What has become of the “ concerted action” spoken of by the Prime Minister? What scheme has been formulated as the result of the advice so strongly solicited by him and given with such clearness in the memorandum to which I am referring? In examining the causes of this falling off in the increase of our population and the check evidenced by the decline in the three years referred to, the Agents-General call attention to the enormous stream of population to Australia following on the discovery of gold, as well as at the time when we had a vigorous policy of public works - when Australia, with wonderful light-heartedness, which subsequent events did not justify, was particularly lavish in her expenditure in that direction.
– Her borrowed money was mostly spent on reproductive works.
– No doubt some of it was.
– The great bulk of it was.
– We have a very good representation against our national debt in assets, some of which give a fairly good re turn. Against the total debt of the States we have, I think, assets of the value of about£175,000,000, which pay working expenses and interest on outlay. I do not desire, however, to be led into too close an analysis of finances that do not touch the point with which I am now dealing. The Agents-General, in dealing withthe falling off in the rate of our increase of population, mention, for instance, that some of the population that was obtained by assisted immigration, instead of being an advantage to the community, was for a time a burden, because it consisted of a class of men who could be maintained in employment only by the expenditure of public money. Mr. Coghlan sets forth some of the reasons affecting immigration to Australia. The distance of Australia from Europe, as compared with that of Canada, the expense of the voyage, the comparative ignorance of European peoples as to the resources of this country, the misrepresentation of Australian affairs indulged in by the press of Great Britain, the prevailing opinion that immigrants are not wanted, the uncertainty whether on arrival immigrants can be accommodated with land - which touches the very substance of the matter - the influence of persons who have already emigrated, are all mentioned as causes for our failure to attract population. The arrangements made by Canada with shipping agents, and the strong and systematic advertising of Canada in other countries, are likewise given as reasons for the falling off. Mr. Coghlan calls particular attention to the Immigration Restriction Act, making special reference to the language test and the contract provisions of that measure. The gist of his commentary is that a very unfair interpretation of the scope and operation of that Act was presented to the people of the United Kingdom. Possibly upon that point we are all in agreement. I believe that a similar Act was in operation in Canada, but it did not seem to affect the flow of immigration to that country.
– The part of the Act to which Mr. Coghlan took exception was subsequently amended.
– That is so. The Agents-General in this memorandum make a very careful examination into the classes of men who ought to be brought out. I do not propose to exhaust the clauses of the memorandum dealing with this phase of the question by even a condensed synopsis of what they contain. Let me mention, however, one or two. In the first place, they refer to a class that we should be most anxious to secure, farmers who have recently disposed of their property and have a capital of from £500 to £1,000 with which to commence life in a new country. Then they refer to a class of men who, as the result of their industry have saved perhaps £25 to £50, and are anxious to emigrate, and also to a class “ which is comparatively numerous “ - men with no means, some skilled farm labourer’s, and some without even that qualification, who, in the opinion of the Agents-General should be assisted to wherever they wish to emigrate. This particular class - and especially labourers, whose average wage in England is only about 14s. per week - has been swelling the tide of immigration to Canada during the last five or six years ; but it is not, on the whole, the class that we should seek to induce to come to Australia.
– There have been some very fine men amongst the immigrants to Canada.
– No doubt. Every year, no less than 38,000 emigrants leave Ireland, and a good many of them go to Canada. They are not, I think, assisted immigrants. They either pay their own fare, or their friends who have preceded them assist them to emigrate. Immigrants to. Canada and America have saved money there and helped their friends to join them. Even the hard-working servant girl has often used her savings in assisting her brother or, let us hope, her sweetheart, to join her in Canada or the United States. There are inducements, apart altogether from assisted immigration, for people to go to some countries. The Agents-General, after very carefully considering the whole matter, recommend that a substantial class that can be put upon the land is the class of immigrants that weought to encourage, but they state that the greatest number that the Commonwealth could hope to accommodate in one year is about 2,000. It is mentioned, at page 6 of the memorandum, that Queensland was making an average concession of £11 per head to nominated immigrants, whilst Western Australia was making a concession of about£5 per head. That arrangement, however, does not seem to have been very successful. I do hot know what are the figures as to immigration to those two States during the periods when this inducement was held out, but I believe that in ten years not more than 50,000 went there.
– In ten years?
– In ten years, but I am speaking from memory. We ought to bear this in mind in connexion with financing an immigration scheme. What the AgentsGeneral said is -
At this distance it is difficult to gauge the capacity of Australia to receive immigrants, and, therefore, we do not attempt to make an estimate of the cost of introducing the policy herein outlined ; but we certainly think that 2,000 adults would be as many immigrants, of an eligible type, and of the classes herein indicated as suitable for immigration to Australia, as could be accommodated in one year.
That is the report presented to the Prime Minister for his guidance, and I should like to know whether he proposes to act on it. Is all this talk about immigration to be simply directed towards the subvention of not more than 2,000 eligible persons per annum? If so, what was the use of all the talk at the Conference in England about the millions that could be settled in Australia under a certain policy. What are the electors to understand from the Prime Minister’s recent estimate of an ultimate total of about 100,000,000 people in Australia ? What are the electors asked to do in view of those rhetorical statements from the platform, and of the coldblooded presentation in the memorandum of the Agents-General of what is possible?
– Let us make the land available for the people.
– No doubt there would be no need for assisted immigration, if there were available areas of land, which would tempt people to come here, notwithstanding the distance. My idea in rising was to divert honorable members attention from mere rhetoric and enthusiasm to the reports submitted to the Prime Minister by the Agents-General for his guidance.
.- I desire to emphasize some remarks I made on this question a few nights ago, when I urged the necessity for increasing the vote for the purpose of advertising Australia in Great Britain. It seems to me that£20,000 is a very small amount for the purpose.
– So much as that has not been spent in any year yet.
– But we have reached the stage, when, with our protective policy, the development of the iron industry, and the commencement of certain public works, we shall inevitably require more people. The question of immigration always impresses me as being the most important that this Parliament has to deal with, seeing that it is the very foundation of a national policy. What is the value of protection, or of our defence proposal, unless we have people here to do the developmental work? Only a glance at the statistics is required to show that our progress in the way of population has, for many years, been too slow. In the ten years from 1851-61 the increase of population in all Australia was 744,988 ; for 1861-71 the increase was 512,237 ; for 1871-81 it was 587,232 ; for 1881-91 it was 923,983 ; for 1891-1901 it was 594,659, and from 1901 to 1905, the increase was 278,769. If we take the increase at the same ratio for the remainder of the ten years up to 191 1, we shall have a total increase of 557,000 odd, which, of course, is a decrease as compared with former decades.
– That means we are losing the natural increase by births over deaths.
– Evidently. We know that the great falling off in population has occurred since the States ceased to carry out a policy of assisted immigration.
– And possibly since the States ceased borrowing.
– That may have had something to do with the decrease. Since the inauguration of Federation, Australian production has increased by 30 per cent.-, whereas our population has increased by only 15 per cent. A comparison between Australia and Canada has been made in connexion with immigration ; and it has been stated that the policy in the latter Dominion has been overdone, with the result that large numbers of people are going to the United States, while others are finding their way back to their own countries. I take that to mean that the resources of Canada are not to be compared with the resources of some other countries. In the United States, the average annual increase in population is 750.000, though last year it was nearly 1,500,000.
– That is by immigration alone.
– Yes; and the figures show that when immigrants go to the United States, they find a country with a great variety of resources. This additional population causes those resources to be developed, because it stimulates the Government to undertake public works, and encourages private enterprise to invest in large ventures, all of which tend to general development. The Commonwealth and the States Governments have an annual revenue of about £50,000,000, and yet less than £50,000 per annum is spent on immigration.
– I think the honorable member is understating the amount a good deal, because my information is that this year Queensland alone spends more than £50,000.
– That is quite true.
– From the statistics which I saw, I was under the impression that 1 was overstating the amount, though possibly the Prime Minister has later statistics than I have.
– I think the amount expended must be over £100,000.
– The Commonwealth has an oversea trade of something like £114,000,000, and yet, according to the statement of the Prime Minister, we have spent this year only about £1,200 in advertising the Commonwealth.
– That expenditure was for 1906-7, not 1907-8. I conveyed a mistaken impression when I spoke of it as this year’s expenditure. This year, I think, the expenditure now reaches about £2,500.
– The Government are spending the vote which has not yet been passed.
– Yes, but only in the way of larger sums for items which have been approved on previous Estimates. The telegraphing of the Tariff items this year represents an additional expenditure of £500 or £600, as compared with last year, and publications are being more widely circulated at an equally increased cost.
– I understand that there has already been spent £1,200, and that it is anticipated that there will be additional expenditure, amounting, however, to only hundreds, and not thousands.
– I did so state, but then, as I say, I was using last year’s figures instead of the present year’s figures, which are larger.
– Canada, of course, has for many years taught us a lesson in immigration, the Dominion Government spending something like , £200,000 a year. I saw that Mr. Mead, the new Chairman of the Water Commission of Victoria, said the other day that the immigrants who found their way to Canada last year, chiefly assisted by the Government, possessed a total capital in cash of something like £12000,000 ; and it appears to me that an immigration policy on the part of the Commonwealth could be justified on purely business principles, as returning a handsome and immediate result. It was estimated by the honorable member for East Sydney, when attending the Hobart Conference as Prime Minister in 1904, that a subsidy of about £8 per head would be sufficient to bring out immigrants. If we spent £400,000 per annum in bringing out 50,000 immigrants, this would mean, on the Canadian basis, additional residents possessing amongst them £2, 000,000 in actual cash. Then, if we calculate ,£200 per head for about one-third of the number, as representing what is generally acknowledged to be the value of an adult man in good health, we have represented an additional value of ,£3,500,000; and, therefore,. 50,000 people would, as soon as they landed, mean an added value to Australia of about -/. 5,000,000, in return for an expenditure of £400,000.
– That is only on paper.
– That may be, but we must lay down sound principles before we can proceed with practical legislation. The Prime Minister has emphasized the importance of the immigration question on several occasions, and the probability is that he has said all that can reasonably be said. With his keen grasp of political questions and his statesmanship, the Prime Minister, recently at Lilydale, in one of the most pungent, practical addresses he has delivered, emphasized the importance of the question; and Australia is waiting for the Government to introduce some definite, practical measure to give effect to the views which have been so frequently and eloquently expressed. We have had enough talk on this question. “ Population is needed, not merely to train as soldiers, which is a secondary consideration, but to develop its resources, and therefore we must, without, further delay, offer encouragement to immigration ‘ by passing such legislation as will tend to bring here in sufficient numbers the proper class of immigrants. If the Prime Minister introduces practical definite proposals such as he has forecast, he will properly interpret, the views of the majority of the people of Australia.
.- I, like other honorable members,, think that there should be no cheese-paring or niggardliness in advertising the resources of the Commonwealth, because the money will be wasted unless we do things well. I wish to make my position in regard to immigration clear. I shall not be one to keep Britishers out of Australia. I left the Old Country to better my condition,’ and I wish to leave the door open here to all who are now in the position which I once occupied. Any man who plucks up courage to emigrate to Australia is sure to better his condition, in life, because there is no country in the world where working men can do so well.
– The Government should send the honorable member Home as an immigration agent.
– I have grown fat here in every sense. I landed in Brisbane without the proverbial “ bob,” and now I always go down Queen-street with a sovereign in my pocket. If that statement is not a sufficient advertisement for the country, I do not know what would be. There is no place for the worker like Australia, and particularly Queensland. I have such faith in the country that I believe that if, to-morrow, I had only my swag, I should be top-dog again within twelve or eighteen months. In Queensland there is an immigration system which allows any resident of the State to nominate for’ assisted passages persons up to the age of fifty years, on payment of a scale of charges ranging from the price of the kit for female domestics and males up to the age of twentyone, to £10 as a maximum.
– The maximum is now £8.
– The arrangements allow persons resident in Queensland to send for their relatives and parents. I came out ns an assisted immigrant. In London I was earning only 18s. a week for twelve hours’ work a day, and I had a wife to keep, paying for clothes, food and rent. I have no love for the Old Country, so far as the living I made there is concerned, though 1 cannot forget the land which gave me birth and infant nurture. But Australia is my home, and I am a thorough Australian in every sense of the -word. If the possibilities of this country were made known in the Old Land, emigration would flow towards Australia as strongly as it has flowed towards other lands. We should get many more emigrants than go to Cape Colony and the Transvaal, because the journey from England is not much longer.
It is our distance from Great Britain that keeps people from coming here. They go to Canada because that country can be reached in a voyage of a few days. Now that there is stagnation in the Canadian immigration policy, Australia should do something to advertise her resources. British people, so long as they are under the British flag, feel that they are still at home. When men land here without anything, they take the first job that offers, to secure a chance to look round. Many of the best colonists in Queensland landed here without a shilling, and their position to-day should be sufficient evidence of the advantages offered in this country. The honorable member for Wimmera told us that only £50,000 has been spent in the whole of Australia in connexion with immigration ; but I heard Mr. Kidston say on the hustings at the last Queensland elections that more than that amount had been spent by the State within the twelve months. Every Orient steamer brings immigrants to Queensland, mostly females. I am sorry that our birth rate is not increasing. It is so small that we are forced to increase our population by importing fresh stock. Sheep or cattle breeders, when they find a strain running out, import stud rams and ewes, or stud bulls and cows’, and we should take similar means to increase the population of the country.
– Would the honorable member favour a coloured blend ?
– Every one knows my opinions on that point. I do not like the coloured man, and if a law were proposed to prevent the mixing of white and black races, I should be one of its champions. But although the honorable member for Wimmera loudly advocates a vigorous immigration policy, let me read to honorable members a letter which the honorable member for Echuca brought under the notice of the Treasurer in August last. It is as follows -
Rushworth, 30th July, 1907.
It is now a long time since the Government dumped down some twenty-seven returned Australians from South Africa here. They were informed by some one in the office of the Closer Settlement Board that work would be waiting for them on their arrival in Rushworth. The whole thing was a sad bungle both for the men and the public of this town, on whose charity they were cast. A public subscription was made, but this was insufficient to provide for them until the Government (State) agreed to give them a fortnight’s work at Waranga Basin. Three gentlemen here had in addition to what they did before, to guarantee six or seven publicans the cost of the keep of most of these men for a time, feeling that when the authorities were made aware of their action they would reimburse us for this outlay : indeed, possibly return the public subscription in full, seeing that the fault lay solely with the authorities who sent the men here. I communicated with Mr. Jenkins, of the Closer Settlement Board, and the usual printed P.C. reply came to say that the matter should receive due attention.
When we make applications to Government Departments, and obtain the reply that our letter has been received, and that the matter with which it deals will be given due consideration, what is the first thought that comes to our minds?
– That that is the end of it.
– Yes. These men were practically starving, and yet the only reply to a communication on their behalf made to Government officials in Melbourne was that the position would receive due consideration. Did the writer think that he would get a reply after being told that? If so, he was a fool. The letter continues -
After a considerable lapse pf time and nothing further arriving, I again wrote Mr. Jenkins, and two others signed the letter; but no reply has as yet come to hand. Will you kindly see Mr. Jenkins or whoever is responsible and acquaint them with the fact that we are far from being satisfied with the manner in which our communications are being treated, and urge upon him the reason and necessity there is for complying with our request? - I am, yours respectfully, on behalf of Messrs. O’Brien, McNamara, Raynor, and self, F. C. Vian.
The honorable member for Echuca asked the Treasurer, who was then Acting Prime Minister, if he was prepared to take action in the matter. The honorable member wished to show his constituents that he meant business, and when most other honorable members were getting ready to go home, the pet lamb of the honorable member for Kooyong made a fussabout twentysix repatriated Australians, for whom work could not be found in Victoria. If work cannot be found here for Victorians repatriated at Government expense, why are immigrants being asked for? The officials were satisfied to get the men away from Melbourne. They sent them to Rushworth, in the Goulburn Valley, the garden of Australia, as I have heard Victorians call it. I say that it is simply monstrous.
– What would the honorable member have done for those men?
– I asked that some of them should be sent to westernQueensland where work could be found for them straight away. I may tell the honorable member that
I have paid the fares of more than halfadozen men who desired to get away from Victoria to Queensland, and that I have been very pleased to do so. The State which I represent can absorb them, and is absorbing them, and, as a result, Victoria is “ squealing.” Only the other day I read in one of the Melbourne newspapers the statement that several families at Warracknabeal had crossed the border into New South Wales because they could not procure land in this State. Yet some honorable members desire that we should embark upon a vigorous immigration policy. I shall never be a party to bringing men from the Old Country to dump them down in Melbourne, and thereby flood the labour market. Only to-day, whilst visiting the Commonwealth offices,in Spring-street, I observed a crowd of men at the entrance to the Treasury Gardens, and upon inquiry I was told that they were the unemployed clamouring for work. It is monstrous that in a city like Melbourne such a state of things should exist. Yet it is urged that more immigrants are wanted. Why? Simply to “ pull down “ wages. At the sametime, there are places in Australia which are quite capable of absorbing not the twenty-six men for whom work could not be found in the rich Goulburn Valley, but 26,000.
– Are not some of the miners in Queensland in a very bad way ?
– Just before I left Bris bane I learned that there were fifty or sixty men who were anxious to work their passages south, because they were practically starving.
– Some of the sugar districts are over-supplied with labour.
– But the sugar districts do not comprise Queensland. They constitute only a fringe of it. Everybody knows that the more abundant is labour the lower will be the rate of wages paid. I have no desire to make Australia a close preserve for those who are already here. But if we are going to attract immigrants we should at least give them an assurance that they will be able to obtain employment upon their arrival.
– The best advertisement that we can obtain is from the successful immigrant who sends news of his success to the Old Country.
– Last night some members of the Opposition took the Prime Minister to task for having expended money upon the publication Australia To-day. I sent one of the copies of that journal to a sister In Sheffield last year, who circulated it amongst her friends there. As a result, they wrote me, asking me if I could nominate them for assisted passages to Australia. I got my son to nominate a family of five, and to-day they are prosperous settlers in Queensland.
– That is the best justification for the publication referred to.
– If it accomplished no more good than the introduction of that one family, it has justified its existence. Of course, that is only one case, but there may be many others of a similar character. .. I entertain grave doubt as to whether the Commonwealth can undertake an immigration scheme as effectively as can the States.
– We ought either to do something, or stop this talk.
– I believe that the Prime Minister is in earnest upon this matter, and I have always had faith in his sincerity.
– Nobody questions it.
– But he must put something in the window before the public will enter his establishment to buy. If the honorable member for Parramatta opened a shop in Bourke-street to-morrow, and refused to display his goods in the window, how much business would he do? I believe that the States can manage an immigration scheme much more effectively than can the Commonwealth, because I hold that divided control is tantamount to no control at all.
– Unfortunately, in Victoria the State authorities will not endeavour to do anything.
– They will come to their senses presently. . It is merely a question of time. I should like to know from the Prime Minister how much of the £20,000 which we are asked to vote for advertising the resources of the Commonwealth has been expended?
– Fifteen hundred pounds already.
– There will not be much chance of spending any more during the current financial year.
– Themoney is not required for this year, but for next year, when a vote at least as large, if not larger, will be submitted.
– Will not this money lapse on the 30th June?
– Yes. under present conditions, but we are discussing the vote with an eye to the future.
– We might as well reduce it by £18,000.
– Oh, no. Although the money cannot be expended- .
– Why should the vote be passed?
– Why should we block it?
– Because somebody may afterwards say that this amount has been spent, and that amount, and some other amount. Year after year we are voting money which is not expended.
– What is the use of the honorable member talking like that, when he knows very well there is a column upon the Estimates which shows the expenditure for last year? I hope that this dis-‘ cussion will be productive of good results. I am satisfied that the Prime Minister desires to do something, but that he is somewhat shackled in this matter. He merely wishes to know what the States are prepared to do for immigrants after he has landed them here. When the States have assured him that they are willing to place so many thousand immigrants in their territory each year, I am satisfied that he will carry his immigration policy into effect.
.- I have listened with great pleasure to the remarks of the last speaker. At the commencement of his observations I was under the impression that he was most enthusiastic in his desire to secure for us additional population. But subsequently his attitude changed, until all that underlay his speech was a good British tone. I believe that there are three great national propositions which ought to be dealt with by this Parliament, namely, increased population, finance, and defence. I think that the first of these is of the greatest importance, because of the direct bearing that it has upon the other two. I quite admit that there are instances such as those quoted by the honorable member for Maranoa, in which difficulty has been experienced in placing in suitable positions men who have been repatriated at the expense of the Government. Of course, we have a moral obligation to see that no immigrant is stranded here. I do not think that anybody can question the sincerity of the Prime Minister in this matter. He has always been in favour of increasing our population upon legitimate lines. I confess that I was very much surprised at the observations of the honorable member for Angas, who took up a position which was adverse to - the introduction of immigrants to our shores. Personally, I hold that we have never yet attacked this question in a sufficiently strong business manner. I have studied the methods which are adopted in Canada itself for the reception of immigrants there, and I have also seen their arrangements made in Whitehall, together with those made throughout the provinces of Great Britain, where most effective sub-agencies have been established, which are practically miniatures of the central offices in London. I repeat that none of the States have yet attacked this question in a business-like manner.
– That remark is especially applicable to Victoria.
– Victoria has a comparatively small territory, but perhaps has not attacked Hie question as she ought to have done. Very little can result from the discussion of the abstract question at the present time, and the scheme’ proposed by the Government will be awaited with interest. We are now asked to vote the sum of £20,000 for the purpose of advertising the resources of Australia, but it has been shown that only a very small portion of that amount can be expended during the current financial year, and I “agree with those who hold that if the question of immigration is to be attacked effectively this expenditure of £20,000 will be a mere drop in the bucket. We must be prepared to spend very much larger sums, in order to do good work. I view the appointment of a High Commissioner as a necessity of the situation, but should doubt very much the desirableness of making such an appointment if the occupant of the office were not required for the important and great work of encouraging immigration to Australia. Lord Strathcona is perhaps the best immigration agent that any part of the Empire has in London to-day. He has under him an excellent staff, and joins with it in doing everything possible to point out to intending emigrants the attractions of Canada. Australia, however, can offer the intending emigrant far greater inducements, than Canada can do. The one obstacle to be overcome is the cheapening of fares between England and Australia. As has been pointed out, there is keen competition amongst the shipping companies trading across the Atlantic, and the journey from
Liverpool to Canada occupies very little time.
– - We need to make the passage money from England to Australia as low’ as it is from England to Canada.
– I believe that a man can travel from Liverpool to Montreal for 25s. I doubt our being able to arrange for so low a fare from Liverpool to any Australian port.
– The fare from Liverpool to the central provinces of Canada is about £7. We could arrange to bring out immigrants at the same rate.
– It may be possible to do so. We should endeavour, at all events, to offer in that regard as great an inducement as does Canada to intending emigrants. The Prime . Minister has said in effect to the Premiers of the States: “ If you will provide the land we will find the people to settle on it.” If the States do not accept his offer, the responsibility resting upon the Commonwealth will be greatly diminished. I shall do my best to support the efforts of the Government to attract to Australia a desirable class of immigrants. Australia desires to attract to her shores a virile class of people, ‘ such as we already have here. We want to attract persons physically and mentally sound, with -plenty of backbone, and a’ determination to achieve that success . which the honorable member for Maranoa, by his own unaided effort, has secured.
– I do not propose to enter the very wide field of discussion which this question presents^ since I feel that there must be some termination to our consideration of the Estimates, and that it would be unwise at the present time to deal very fully with the subject. At the same time, I wish to say that I do not share the readiness of the honorable member for Maranoa and the honorable member for Kooyong to vote a sum of £20,600 for advertising Australia in the absence of an intimation from the Government as to the nature of their proposals. Much more than £20,000 will be necessary for the purpose in view, but though I will gladly support a larger outlay, I hesitate to agree to an item of this kind which is not accompanied by any definite proposals on the part of the Government. I had hoped that the Prime Minister, since he cannot spend the whole of this sum during the current financial year, would be satisfied with a vote covering what is likely to be expended, leaving any demand for a larger vote to be considered in connexion with future Estimates, and in conjunction with a scheme to be carried out with or without the co-operation of the States. We cannot altogether blame the States for the attitude they have taken up. They say, in effect, “ We have the land. We have to provide for the people who are brought out here in large numbers, and we can do so.”
– W - Which State says that it can provide for them?
– Queensland, New South Wales, and Western Australia, to the extent of their available lands, provide for immigrants, and they say, “ We can do the work for ourselves. I’f the Commonwealth is going to expend money in bringing immigrants to our snores we shall be debited with our proportion of that expenditure. That being so, we might just as well expend the money for ourselves.” I am not supporting such a contention ; I am merely pointing out that we must not consider that, the attitude taken up by the States is wholly unreasonable. I agree that one central authority acting for the whole of the States can do this work more effectively and cheaply than any of the individual States could hope to do ; but the Prime Minister should not expect Parliament to vote considerable sums of money for this purpose until he has outlined the scheme in connexion with which he proposes that they shall be expended. I admit that it is not his fault that no scheme is before us. He has been endeavouring to work with the States, but, probably for the reasons I have given, they have shown a reluctance to join with the Commonwealth. At the same time we ought to be satisfied, before agreeing to vote so large a sum, that the method of expenditure to be adopted will be such as to commend itself to us.
– We .ought not to continue to vote money that is not spent.
– We are voting money that cannot be spent during the current year unless it is thrown away. The importance of this- phase of the question is shown by the experience of Canada. From what I saw recently when in Great Britain I have no hesitation in saying that -a lot of the money expended by Canada with a view to attract immigration is simply thrown away. She has undoubtedly attracted a large stream of immigration, but has done so at unnecessary cost. If we are to compete with Canada what will be the result?
– We shall have here a state of affairs like that now prevailing in Canada, where a lot of people are unable to find work.
– That state of affairs has not been the result of immigration. Canada was able to find work for her immigrants until the recent crisis, and for that her immigration policy was not responsible.- There are reasons why, even if we spend the hundreds of thousands of pounds that Canada has expended in this direction, we shall not obtain the same result. In the first place, her proximity to the Old World gives her an advantage over Australia. It is not merely the cost, of the voyage to Australia which militates against us. As a rule, emigrants from Great Britain do not “leave with the intention of never returning to their native land. They have the hope that they may be sufficiently successful in other countries to be able to return at some time and spend their remaining days in the land of their birth. Where similar advantages are offered by two countries they deliberately’ choose the nearer, believing that its proximity to Great Britain will render it easier for them to return. We hays also to remember that a great deal of what is described as immigration to Canada is not immigration in the true sense of the word. Many people go from Great Britain and the United States to Canada for the season’s work, and return. Under the Canadian system, however, they are classed as immigrants, and no deduction is made in respect of their departure.. I think that the Minister of Trade and Customs made some inquiries from the Canadian Government as -to the number of departures from the Dominion oversea or across the United States border, and that he was informed that the information desired could not be given. Many men cross from America into Canada with a view of following up the crops as they ripen - just as our shearers go from one State to another - and return to the States at the close of the season. All these men are classed as immigrants, and no deduction is made in respect of their departure. . That being so, the results of the Canadian immigration policy have been greatly magnified. Then,, again, we have to remember that Canada has been willing to receive persons of all occupations, whilst Australia has been seeking chiefly to attract farmers or farm labourers. The immigrants to Canada comprise only a small proportion of those classes. And all our expenditure, if we continued to hold those views, and went to the same extent as Canada, would be spread over a much smaller number of people. Then there is the difficulty of the distance and of the passage-money, though, of course, our efforts might be directed to reducing the latter. It will be seen, therefore, that even if we spent the amount which is spent by Canada, we could not be nearly so successful as is the Dominion. I am not making these remarks in order to throw a wet blanket on the scheme, but only to show the necessity of cheaper and more effective work than is done in the case of Canada. Whatever class we desire to attract to Australia, our efforts should, as directly as possible, reach that class. If we desire to have farmers, farmers’ sons, and farm labourers, we ought to place in the possession of every farmer in Great Britain, direct, the information that we have to impart. We should also avoid some of the very questionable methods adopted by Canadian immigration agents. I know the difficulty in handling agents, and of confining them to truthful representations; but we all remember “ that in the case of Canada there were undesirable means adopted, which .may or may not have been authorized by any one in a responsible position. I rose principally to point out that the success of our expenditure depends upon the system ‘adopted, and before’ Parliament votes any large sum, we ought to know what the proposed system is. I know that the Prime Minister desires to consult the States.
– I have done so.
– But I mean that the Prime Minister may desire to further consult the States.
– I have had further replies .from some of the States, though not from. all.
– And, if necessary, I suppose the’ Prime Minister desires further consultation, if there is any hope in the replies; and, therefore, the honorable gentleman is not prepared with a scheme at present.
– Not with a complete scheme. I am prepared with my own part, but not with the part that depends on the States’ co-operation.
– What does the Prime Minister consider his own part of the scheme? Spreading information about Australia?
– Not altogether, but there is the Northern Territory, which will be directly our own.
Mr.DUGALD THOMSON.- We do not know that, because Parliament has to approve of that transfer. At any rate, none of these matters can be undertaken in the immediate future.
– Not before the end. of this financial year.
– That is what I mean ; and yet we are asked to vote a sum which gives a sort of blank authority tothe Government to proceed with the expenditure, although no scheme has been presented. We have the assurance that this money will not, and cannot be, expended before the end of the present financial year, and I suggest to the Prime Minister the desirability, for the sake of accuracy in the Estimates, of cutting the item down to the sum he thinks sufficient for immediate needs.
– That seems rather like discouraging the proposal. It will be noted that the item has been reduced, and the reduction may be misinterpreted.
– On the other hand, if we retain the item as at present, it will seem rather like making a pretence of doing something when we know that nothing can be done.
– Something has been, can be, and is being done.
– But not before the end of the financial year.
– Yes, in the way of advertising, but not otherwise.
– Advertising, I think, will represent a mere trifle.
– Not over £5,000 at the outside.
– Then a vote of £5,000 would cover our needs. I should like to know the scheme before any large sum is voted.
– Hear, hear.
– And £20,000 is a large sum.
– But that cannot be spent before the end of the financial year.
– Therefore, I suggest that the item should be reduced.
– To reduce the item would, I think, look bad, but I will undertake not to spend more than £5,000.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.45 p.m.
. -I desire to say a few words with special reference to the opinion expressed by the honorable member for Wimmera, that the question of immigration is more important than that of defence.
– What is the good of a scheme of defence without people?
– Personally, I think that the two questions are inter-dependent. Immigration largely arises from the necessity for providing a sufficient defence; otherwise I do not see why we, as a Commonwealth, should trouble ourselves and make special and strained efforts to attract people here. In my opinion, the attractions of the Commonwealth, to those who know them, are sufficient to induce large numbers of people to settle in the country ; and if the resources are sufficiently advertised, as proposed, the result will, I think, be a constant influx of immigrants. If the. Prime Minister merely continues the distribution of Australia ToDay amongst the working, farming, and financial and commercial classes of the United Kingdom, the results will, I think, be very gratifying, because there is no doubt that in that publication is contained a true record of the progress we have made.
– Is that all the honorable member thinks ought to be done?
– By no means.
– Yet that is practically all that the Prime Minister has yet done.
– The Prime Minister has told us that he has distributed various amounts amongst the immigration leagues, and taken other steps. In my view, defence is the paramount question, and immigration the second; otherwise, we might continue in the. happy way of merely absorbing our natural immigration without making any special effort. It seems to me that advertising for the purpose of encouraging immigration is not so necessary as the Prime Minister seems to think. I have no doubt the honorable gentleman’s attention was called to a letter which appeared in the London Times about January last, and in which the editor of the British Australasian stated that he was able to obtain 500 or 600 immigrants at regular periods as soon as it was thought the Commonwealth was ready to receive them.
Further, it was announced the other day by Mr. Williamson Wallace that a large lumber of young Scotch farmers were ready to come to this country if they were certain of securing land. So far as some of the States are concerned, and certainly in the case of Victoria, this is a matter entirely for State action or inaction. We must remember that only a month ago the whole community was thrown into a state of anxiety because some twenty-nine Bulgarians were in Melbourne, and others to the number of 120 distributed amongst the States who could not obtain employment. These were white Europeans of the farming class, sober and anxious to get employment, and yet it was over a week before it was possible for them to be absorbed.
– That was almost wholly due to the language difficulty.
– Does the Prime Minister propose to limit immigration to Englishspeaking people? I have recently drawn the attention of the Prime Minister’s Department to the fact that a Mr. Rothe, who has recently started an agency for the sale of Australian products in Copenhagen, has said that he is able to induce the immigration of a number of Danes, Norwegians, and Swedes who are ready to come here without any assistance, so long as they know some provision will be made for them on arrival.
– I saw the honorable member’s letter on the point.
– I understand that Mr. Rothe is prepared to do this largely out of his love for Australia, though I have no doubt his efforts would have the effect of promoting his business. At any rate, this immigration would be without expense to the Commonwealth.
– Hear, hear.
– I am pleased to see that the Prime Minister seems willing to accept these immigrants, though they are not English-speaking. If we take what I regard as the true view, and place immigration as secondary to defence, we cannot stipulate that immigrants shall be Englishspeaking. The question has been raised as to the necessity of populating the Northern Territory with white people; and doubtless that will be considered when the transfer of the Territory is under consideration. However, I understand that the Prime Minister proposes to induce white people to settle on our northern shores ; but I am afraid that, if so, we shall have a repetition of the experience of the southern States of America. So long as profitable employment was available in the northern States, where the climate is temperate, the southern States continued to be thinly populated.
– They were the last to be populated.
– Simply because the immigrants who went to America found the temperate climate in the north more attractive ; and I take it that if we induce immigrants to go to the Northern Territory, it will be impossible to use any compulsion to make them stay there, when Queensland and Northern New South Wales present superior attractions. The Anglo- Japanese treaty does not terminate until 1915, so that we have seven more years in which to consider this question.
– In seven years Japan will have her hands pretty fullwith China.
– I believe it is extremely likely that there will be a financial collapse in japan by that time. But our danger lies in the north, and it is most desirable that the northern part of Australia should be filled. I never understood until quite recently that Russia was meeting the position by placing a population of over 15,000,000 white people in Siberia, so that we may have Russian assistance from the north when our struggle comes. This is an interesting subject ; but I think that everything depends on defence. If the idea is to introduce white immigrants to settle the northern parts of Australia, I think that our efforts will not succeed. In my opinion, we should leave immigration largely to the States which have land to offer, and assist them so far as they will allow us to do so. Those whose Governments do not think it wise to fall in with what we are doing, or are not courteous enough to reply to our communications, must be left to their own resources. The honorable member for Maranoa says that there is room for 26,000 immigrants in Queensland. If that be so, and the State Government is offering land, let us do all we can to assist in getting people to go there. But it will be foolish to induce people to come to Victoria or other States where there is not land available for settlement. A side to this question which has not been discussed is this : the more we make known in England the sound financial position and prosperity of the Commonwealth, the more sympathetic will London financiers become, and their good feeling towards us will be of great service when the conversion of our loans is attempted. I shall support the proposal.
– It has been said that the Labour Parry is opposed to immigration, and a great deal has been published in the . press to that effect. What the Labour Party is opposed to is having workless persons here who must be supported by those who are working. It is remarkable that so much should be said about the need for immigrants, at a time when we have thousands of unemployed, many of them ready to turn their hand to anything. I believe that there would be no difficulty in bringing about a large inflow of most desirable immigrants - men who have money with which to begin the battle of life - if it were not for the’ fact, that many of those who have done well in Australia go to England after they have become wealthy and then curse the country which made them prosperous.
– What evidence has the honorable member of that?
– In a book published only a few months back, Mr. Charles Edward Russell, one of the keenest observers of the day, and a brilliant writer, says that he does not remember reading an article in the British press during the five years that he was living in London which did not contain a sneer or some disparaging remark, about Australia. He speaks of our people and conditions in a manner which betokens knowledge gained by residence here, showing that he was not a mere globetrotter. Recently a contemptible cur who wears the King’s uniform - Major Trevor - came here in charge of a team of English cricketers. This cur, who is a disgrace- to the uniform which he wears - because as an officer he should be a gentleman, and yet is npt - sent to the English newspapers a couple of columns containing a parcel of lies about members of Parliament.
– He sent away his article knowing that it could not be re-published in Australia until he had left this country.
– Is not the honorable member giving him undue prominence?
– I hope that the prominence I give him will not be to his credit. I intend to have a word to say upon his reflections on honorable members and on this country. This contemptible man misrepresented a private conversation with the honorable member .for Barrier. He said that he discovered that members of Parliament monopolize the compartments of trains, and travel like princes; but that he did not know whether provision was made for them by the State, iri addition to their salaries.’ I have not known honorable members to travel like princes, but I know that they pay for every farthing’s worth of food that they consume. This contemptible cad tells the public that honorable members are the servants of train conductors. How are we to get immigrants; if a man like Major Trevor, those in charge of the press of the Old Country, and others, are continually sneering at and belittling us?
– Do we not travel like princes ?
– I should like to travel like a prince, but I usually have to travel like a peasant, though, with very few exceptions, I have always found my fellowtravellers to be gentlemen.
– Is the honorable member the servant of the train conductor?
– I have always? found the conductors careful to do their duty, and to keep their places. This man’ says that a train conductor, even when he is paid generously for attentions which he does not give, has not the manners to say “ Thank you.” I have had every attentionat the hands pf conductors throughout the Commonwealth. How can we expect immigration when visitors to Australia publish statements like these? The man who reports a private conversation, even if he does so correctly, is not a gentleman.
– Fetch him out, and shoot him on the spot.
– It might be a good thing for the country if he were shot at sight. Mr. Russell says in his book that, on every steamer and train by which he travelled were wealthy first- class passengers, by whom he never heard Australia mentioned except in terms of derogation and contempt. That statement tells us why we cannot get immigrants. It is time that a. High Commissioner was appointed to reply to the infamous lies told about Australia-
– The lies told abroad are not worse than some told here.
– We can deal with scandals here ; but it is difficult to refute lies published abroad. Some time ago the Rev. Dr. Fitchett, in a series of articles published in the Argus, denounced Australia in extravagant terms. He repeated board-ship conversations to the effect that,, because of our legislation, our people were leaving Australia to so to Canada. When he got to Canada himself, he found that the position was the reverse of what he expected, and that Australia was the more favoured country. Therefore, on his return, he wrote an entirely different set of articles, in another publication. Of course, he was well paid for both sets.
– Apparently neither set satisfied the honorable member.
– A man who writes on both sides of a question should not satisfy any one. Any one writing about his country should first make sure of his facts.
– Does not the honorable member think that Dr. Fitchett has shed lustre on Australian letters?
– Pigmies criticising giants !
– Is Dr. Fitchett the honorable member’s idea of a giant?
– He is a giant, in spite of the jeers at him.
– Does the honorable member approve of the action of Dr. Fitchett, Major Trevor, and others, who have done well out of Australia, in cursing the country?
– Dr. Fitchett is as good a friend of Australia as is the honorable member.
– He should be ashamed of the articles which he wrote to the Argus.
– He was repentant when he came back.
– He should have shown his repentance by contradicting his statements in the Argus.
– The honorable member forgets that he runs a ladies’ college.
– I am glad that he is not running the country. It is time that we had a High Commissioner to speak with authority, and to rebut the slanders which prevent immigration. In the past, the States have done a great deal to attract immigrants. At one time, South Australia gave 20 acres of land to every immigrant who had paid his own passage, and even then found that she could not attract as many as were desired. Today we have no place to put immigrants. Scores of my acquaintances are out of work.
– In spite of the Tariff?
– Yes. If the honorable member had left the Tariff as it was when introduced, there would be fewer un employed. I could not recommend friends to come to Australia while there are unemployed here.
– What class of men are unemployed ?
– First-class mechanics, men of the best character, with whom the honorable member would be satisfied in every respect. There are thousands of unemployed, though, of course, I have not a personal acquaintance with all of them. The Commonwealth should not do too much in regard to immigration until the States have done their share. When the States offer opportunities to immigrants for making a livelihood, I shall not mind how much the vote is increased.
– Did the United States Government find a position for every immigrant coming to that country?
– Not by a long way. Like Canada, it had immigration agents who misrepresented the country and its opportunities.
– Yet it carries a population of between 80,000,000 and 90,000,000 people. .
– Yes, and Austra lia could carry such a population if the honorable member would assist me to give opportunities for employment by imposing a progressive land tax. That would give plenty of land for immigrants. Until we are prepared to do something like that, it is useless to talk about encouraging immigration.
– Does the honorable member think that every immigrant is to make a living by cultivating the soil?
– No; but every 1,000 persons settled on the land give employment to a great many mechanics and others in all branches’ of industry. They require boots, clothing, machinery, and tools of every description, and the manufacture of these articles would provide employment for thousands more. That is the first thing that we must do. Let us settle men upon the land, and the secondary industries in our cities will spring up subsequently.
– Had America a graduated land tax?
– No. The conditions there are such that we are not likely to see them reproduced here for some time to come.
– The United States has an almost prohibitive Tariff.
– As the honorable member for Yarra says, the United States has an almost prohibitive Tariff in operation, and although the people have had long experience of it, they do not seem inclined to abandon it.
– Turkey is a free-trade country ?
– Yes; and several other unprogressive countries. I am very anxious to see a large population settled in the Commonwealth. If we are going to spend £20,000 in attracting immigrants to our shores, I do not think that we can spend it to better advantage than we can in the Northern Territory. There is land available for settlement there if we only wish to place immigrants upon it. That is where population is’ most required, seeing that the unsettled state of the Territory constitutes our greatest danger. Let us spend, if need be, £100,000 in endeavouring to secure some settlement there. I do not wish to occupy the time of the Committee at any further length, but I hold that it is chiefly due to the slanders upon, and the slanderers of, Australia, that the stream of immigration to our shores has been so small during recent years. It will continue to be small until we provide more opportunities for the employment of labour than exist at the present moment.
– I am entirely with the honorable member for Hindmarsh in holding in abhorrence any slander on Australia which emanates from an Australian. But I think that he attaches rather too much importance tothe statements which have been made by Major Trevor.
– He is only one of a type which numbers thousands.
– I scarcely think that Australia is likely to be damaged by any statements which he may have made.
– ‘The honorable member should recollect that he was here in a representative capacity as the leader of an English cricket team.
– I am not sure that the fact that he was the leader of an English cricket team entitles him to speak with authority upon Members of Parliament, travel they as princes or peasants.
– He did not say anything worse about Australia than the Treasurer said about England during his recent visit to. the Old Country.
– I believe that that is so. I was rather struck by two statements of the honorable member for Hindmarsh which appeared to be mutually contradictory. He declared that the Socialist Party in this House did not oppose immigration. I believe that his statement is based upon fact. It is not safe to oppose immigration in Australia, because it is a subject upon which the electors are unanimous. I do not know of any electorate in the Commonwealth which would return a candidate who was opposed to an immigration policy. All the constituencies are unanimous as to the supreme necessity which exists for endeavouring to fill Australia’s empty spaces. Consequently the statement of the honorable member for Hindmarsh. that he was in favour of an immigration scheme appeared to me to be a very natural one. But I notice that his enthusiasm does not take a practical form, because he subsequently affirmed that the Commonwealth should not take the initiative in this matter, but should allow the States to make the first’ move. Now, what is the actual position ? The States are asked to provide land for the immigrants before we move at all.
– What is wrong with the proposal to amend the Constitution so as to give the Commonwealth control of the Crown lands and railways?
– That is a question which I am not at liberty to discuss upon this item. But I wish to. point out that every immigrant who comes to Australia is not prepared to take up land. In other words, he has not a few hundred pounds in his pocket with which he can purchase a farm. Most immigrants come here - as many others have done before them - in the hope of bettering their condition, and we ought to welcome them - irrespective of whether or not they are possessed of capital - so long as they possess those assets which are more valuable in a new country, namely, enterprise, good health, muscle, and brain.
– That is what we say.
– Then there is no necessity for us to wait until the States provide the requisite land.
– We have always said the same thing.
– Yes, but with the qualification that we ought to wait for the States to provide the land.
– In Western Australia the State is doing that.
– And in New South Wales the Government are introducing quite a number of immigrants. But we have a special duty to discharge in this connexion. We have recently enacted a new Tariff which we are told has imparted an enormous stimulus to our manufacturing industries. I understood the Minister of Trade and Customs to say less than a week ago that new manufacturing enterprises are springing up all over Australia. If that be so, here is an opportunity for a protectionist Ministry to bring into Australia numbers of artisans who will be prepared to impart an additional stimulus to those industries, and thus to assist the national work with which the Prime Minister has charged himself. I understand that the great claim which protectionists put forward in country districts is that by means of protective duties population will be attracted here, and as a result the local markets of our agricultural districts will be increased. But it now appears that the Government are loath to prove their bona fides in this connexion. They seem reluctant to bring any immigrants here save persons possessed of capital.
– Does not the honorable member think that when men are leaving one State for another because they cannot obtain land the matter is one of importance?
– I quite admit that the necessity exists to further unlock the lands of Australia, but I do not agree with the method proposed by the honorable member to secure their unlocking.
– How would the honorable member himself secure their unlocking ?
– By straight-out purchases at market values in districts where land is suitable for closer settlement. If a graduated land tax were imposed, as the honorable member desires, the lands that would be thrown upon the market would be the worthless lands which would be got rid of first. The proper way to deal with this subject is to purchase suitable lands at market values.
– And sell them again?
– And sell them again to closer-settlement purchasers. However, I do not wish to make more than a passing reference to this matter at the present time. But I should like to impress upon my honorable friends opposite, and especially upon the honorable member for Hindmarsh, that the constant claim that a graduated land tax is absolutely necessary for the salvation of the Commonwealth is doing as much harm to us in England as are all the statements by irresponsible persons there, about which they so bitterly complain. I know this because I see their remarks echoed in the English press. There I see the statement constantly made that Australia is a country where people can obtain no land and no employment. That statement is doing the Commonwealth more harm than any. of the irresponsible statements by Major Trevor and other persons to whom the honorable member for Hindmarsh referred. If my honorable friends opposite are really sincere in the cry about”stinking fish,” let them be careful that they do not handle it.
– It is remarkable that New Zealand, where an unimproved land value tax has been operative for nearly twenty years, receives a larger proportion of immigrants than we do.
– But in New Zealand there is no party whose assertion that there is no land available for closer-settlement purposes is being constantly re-echoed in Great Britain. During the last few years the Labour Party in Australia has made the country ring with that misstatement. It is obviously inaccurate to describe Australia as a landless country, when a great. State like that of Queensland, where the Government in power is in strong sympathy with the Labour Party, is advertising large tracts for settlement.
– Only 3 per cent. of the Crown lands of Queensland have been alienated.
– I understand that that is so. Yet members of the Labour Party have made the people of England believe that no land can be obtained in Australia-, and no employment. If. they are sincere in their cry about “stinking fish,” I ask them to leave it alone, and not to soil their hands with it.
– The honorable member should read On ourSelection, which is quite true to life.
– Whilst it is quite legitimate to say that a difficulty is experienced in obtaining land in Australia under exist ing conditions, to urge that there is no land available for settlement is calculated to damage the country. I was very much struck the other evening with the tribute paid by the honorable member for Flinders to the
Prime Minister for his promise to introduce a comprehensive scheme of immigration at a future date. . I was most gratified to hear that promise. But I was equally gratified some three or fouryears ago-
– I am sure the honorable member was not..
– Some three years ago the
Prime Minister made a great speech in Sydney upon the question of immigration. A special meeting of the Immigration League was convened for the purpose, and the honorable gentleman ‘ made a speech which filled most of the immigrationists in Australia with the belief that he intended to take action, and that at last Australia would be filled. But the hen has been clucking for threeyears, and we still have no egg.
– Clucking hens do not lay eggs.
– In this case,at all events, the hen has not done so. I hope that a comprehensive scheme will be introduced, and that it is not going to include a proposal to wait further upon the States. It is up to the Prime Minister to give proof of the bona fides of the contention of protectionists, as to filling Australia, by the incidence of the Tariff, by offering assistance in the shape of reduced passages and by other means to suitable industrial immigrants to come to Australia. There are one or two matters in connexion with this question to which I should like to refer. I believe that some honorable members are afraid of introducing industrial immigrants because they think that already too much of our population is congested in our cities. That feeling may be very considerably overdone.
– Is it not a fact ?
– It is a fact, and I de- plore it, that population is very congested in the great Australian cities.
– Is that a healthy condi tion?
– The condition, whilst not itself healthy, is the natural sequitur of the great improvements which have been made in machinery, in methods of commercial distribution, and in other directions.
– Is it not the natural corollary of land monopoly?
– It has nothing whatever to do with land monopoly. If honorable members will bear with me for a moment I shall put my view of the reason for this state of affairs. Honorable members have no doubt observed that country . towns, which used to serve as distributing agencies for their respective districts, have for years on the general average beengrowing less, whilst the principal cities in each State or in each great distributing district have been yearly growing larger. The reason is that the country town as an agency of distribution has been gradually dropping out of existence, while the distribution of the States has become more and more operative from the great cities. In this way we have a natural aggregation of population towards the main cities. That is one factor in this position, and it is due to improved methods of distribution more than to any artificial reason.
– The population not only of country towns, but of rural districts, is decreasing.
– No one knows better than does the honorable member that production can be carried on with less men than was formerly the case. Owing to improved methods of production, the number of men required to obtain certain results is less now than it was.
– The opportunities have decreased.
– Since the population of Australia is not increasing at the rate of more than per cent. per annum, more people can live on the production of fewer people than was previously the case. Consequently more are entering our big cities. It is not healthy to have large aggregations of people in our great cities, but at the same time that aggregation is due largely to natural causes, and the introduction of more industrials will not lead to the diminution of the population of country districts. It will give them a new market; and lead in consequence to more people being placed upon the land. Therefore, as far as I can see, there is no reason why the Prime Minister should not attempt to bring out industrial immigrants ; there is every reason why he should. I do not wish to take up the time of the Committee further on this question. I explained a few nights ago the methods by which I thought immigrants could best be brought to Australia, and I shall not touch again on that question. I merely wish to say, in conclusion, that it is somewhat ridiculous that we should be called upon to vote a large sum of money - not too large for the purpose if it were intended to be put to any use - which we know will not be expended. We know that £15,000 of this sum of £20,000 is notto be expended this year.
We are voting money with the full knowledge that it . will not be used. This is a highly absurd position for a House that regards itself as trustees of the public purse to be put into. I hope that we shall not have a recurrence of the situation; that when the Prime Minister asks for a further vote he will be in a position to ask for a much larger sum, that he will have a cut-and-dried scheme ready in order that wemay know something definite is going to be done with regard to Australian immigration, and thatwe are not to repeat the farcical process of making patriotic speeches on the public platform, and voting certain amounts of money intended to pacify the immigration enthusiasts, whilst we really do nothing.
– I agree with the honorable member for Wentworth that a greatdeal of talk indulged in with respect to immigration is much of the nature of a political placard. Very little earnestness has been exhibited by Australia in dealing with this question. What have the States done, and what are they doing, to cause an influx of immigrants to Australia? It is true that some of them have sent recruiting agents into other States.
– New South Waleshas done something.
– Iunderstand that Queensland has a recruiting agent in Sydney, and that Western Australia hassent a Recruiting agent to Tasmania. The honorable member for Wentworth admits that thecongestion of population in our large cities is undesirable. A glance at the statistics is sufficient toshow that the proportion of our population in metropolitan areas is much larger than it ought to be. The position is altogether different in New Zealand. Since the early nineties the increase in the population of the rural districts and the cities of New Zealand has been fairly even. That has largely been the result of land settlement. Is it not a farce to talk about plenty of land being available for immigrants when there are sometimes hundreds of applicants for a block in some of our States ? By every boat leaving Victoria men are sailing for other parts. A great many have left this State for New Zealand, and I have heard of men who have returned in the hope that they would be able to settle down here, but who have been reluctantly forced to go back.
– I believe that -the honorable member will find that the balance of transfers lately is against New Zealand.
-I think not. I have followed very closely for some time the land board allotments, and know that the Governments of the States have not had available anything like the land required by our own people. Sons of farmers who are trained agriculturists find itimpossible on attaining their majority, and desiring to strike out for themselves, to obtain a block on which to settle. In view of these facts, those who talk about immigration are merely playing at thegame. Notwithstanding what the honorable member for Wentworth has said, I do not hesitate to assert that land monopoly has driven thousands of people from the country into our cities. The land policy of Australia generally has a tendency to monopoly.
– To say that ithas a tendency to monopoly is different from saying that there is no land available.
– Practically speaking, there is not one eligible block available for every ten applicants for land in Australia. Land capable of carrying a population of millions is unfortunately locked up.
– Is it not a fact that only 3 per cent. of theland of Queensland is alienated?
– Is it not a fact that for some years the Government of Queensland, in order to meet the local demand for land, has had to repurchase estates ? Is not the position the same in New South Wales?
– There are millions of acres available there.
-In some cases the millions ofacres to which honorable members opposite refer are either so poor or so remote from a market that it would be cruel to put people on them. It is deplorable that, although we have millions of acres suitable for settlement in districts where there is a good rainfall and a splendid climate, we should have to send many men into the far north. Until our big land-owners are prepared to put their estates into the market, it is unreasonable to talk about immigration. Do honorable members wishto introduce artisans to still further crowd our cities? We want as immigrants men who are fit to go on the land.
– We want the first that we can get.
– I am not going to be a party to the telling of untruths about the conditions obtaining in Australia. More applicants for land come to me than go to the honorable member. It is useless to keep prating about immigration, until there is some progress in rural settlement.
– Does the. honorable mem ber mean that we should not proceed until there is a graduated land tax in order to throw open the land?
-I would never agree to assisted immigration until I saw possible chances of settlement for the immigrants. Remember the hardships that were suffered by some immigrants in New South Wales a little while ago. The key of the situation is the throwing open of the land ; and the sooner honorable members opposite recognise the fact the better it will be for Australia.
– Does the honorable mem ber know that 7,000 assisted immigrants arrived in New South Wales last year, and found work immediately?
– I do not; but I know that there were a number of immigrants who, after they arrived, could not get employment, and some of whom were under the escort of the police.
– Some of them found work in gaol.
– Those immigrants did not find things as rosy as they had been painted. I venture to say that there are very few’ honorable members who, if inquiries were made of them by a friend in England, would be able to write back any great assurance that a man with limited capital would be able to obtain a farm.
– There are hundreds of farms available in Queensland.
– I know that in some parts of Queensland there is some really good land - as good as any in Victoria - but a man requires to have well up to £1,000 before he can go on to it. Land can be purchased on long terms, but it requires a considerable expenditure for clearing and so forth, before there is any return. If the States are in earnest they must take more drastic steps than they have hitherto taken. The honorable member who last spoke said he believed there was a “monopoly of land to the detriment of the general interest of Australia; but I venture to say that that honorable member would not support compulsory purchase, even at a fair price.
– I believe in compulsory purchase, even at a fair price.
– But, unfortunately, the Legislative Councils in the various States are against compulsory purchase.
– We have it in Queensland.
– That is certainly news to me. In Victoria a resolution must pass both Houses before there can be compulsory purchase; and in South Australia it has not been possible to pass a measure of the kind. In my opinion, the progress of New Zealand is chiefly owing to the fact that, during the influx of immigrants in the last ten or fifteen years, the lands have been thrown open and rural settlement has kept pace with the settlement in the towns. Personally, I do not see what the Commonwealth Government can do in the matter.
– Are we to do nothing until the States offer us land?
– The land is in possession of the States, and it is for the States Governments to act. It is only a few years ago since the honorable member for Flinders was talking about land monopoly, and sayinghe would impose the single tax.
– I never suggested such a thing, but I introduced a policy of compulsory purchase.
– That policy was not adopted by the Parliament.
– That was not the fault of the honorable member for Flinders.
– It was the fault of the State Parliament. My complaint is that there is no earnestness on the part of the States, the Governments of which have given no reasonable chance for the settlement of immigrants. There is no doubt that if suitable land were in the market in large quantities, we should have a number of immigrants,with capital and experience, desirous of settling in Australia.
.- The determination we come to on this important question will be largely based on what are our aspirations for Australia. If our aspirations be in accordance with the somewhat spurious cry of “ Australia for the Australians, in the most limited sense, we shall be opposed to immigration ; but if our aspirations be in the direction of making Australia a great and integral part of the Empire, then our policy will be one of development and land settlement. If our policy be one of a White Australia, I venture to say, with all due respect to the Labour Party, that we must of necessity be in favour of bringing, not a few, but thousands of immigrants into the country, and treating them properly when they get here. It is absolute nonsense to say that we have no land available, seeing that Australia at the present time is practically an empty country. We must set our shoulders to the wheel, and endeavour to attract immigrants. Of course, constitutional difficulty arises from the fact that it is hard to get the States Governments and the Federal Government to work in unison. That, however, should not be impossible ; and doubtless our persuasive Prime Minister - and I use that term with the utmost respect - will be able to induce the Premiers in conference to do something to justify our spending something more than the sum at present proposed in. this connexion. The Prime Minister has promised to do so; and in his important speech on ^defence he made it quite evident that if there is any man who recognises the necessity of bringing people to Australia, it is himself. I venture to .say that none of us desire the yellow people to come here ; and yet it would be impossible, with a population of 4,500,000, to defend our shores if Great Britain ever became em’broiled in a great war. Are we prepared to . maintain -our hearths and homes, our wives and families, by the only effective means? With all respect to the scheme of defence of the Prime Minister, I say that, when we have put forth our utmost efforts in arming and in drilling our people, we shall not be able to defend Australia’s 8,000 miles of coast line; and the only sensible course is to join political forces, both. State and Federal, in one common determination to make it possible to settle a large population on the land. The honorable member for ‘ Grey referred to” the movement in progress Df inducing men, for various reasons, to leave one State for another; and I do not know that that is altogether an unmixed evil from the point of view of land settlement. Every man who moves from Victoria, for instance, to take up land in New South Wales or Queensland,, leaves areas available for other people ; and the process referred to is, in my opinion, only a natural one. It is quite true that a man may sell out his small holding, to a large landholder ; but, at the same time, when a man dies, his land is very often divided amongst “members of his family. There has never been a greater national work, or one which would more justify us in seriously considering the question of immigration, than that represented by the great irrigation scheme in Victoria. Such a scheme makes it easy to subdivide great holdings in the Goulburn Valley, and settle numbers of families in the place of one; arid what is possible there is possible in many other parts of Australia. It is proper that the Federal Parliament should do something to induce immigration ; and there is no need to wait for the States to take action. In Queensland there are thousands of acres available, and I believe that in the near future the policy of that country will be the same as that followed in America, inasmuch as railways will be constructed in order to induce settlement, instead of settlement preceding railways. I should like to say a word or two about the congestion of population and the effects of machinery. With great regret I heard an honorable member say to-day that, as the result of machinery, men were thrown put of employment. The teaching of experience is that the employment of machinery does not throw men out of employment, but, on the other hand, makes it possible for the poor to enjoy luxuries hitherto undreamed of. Machinery substitutes for hard work employment of a character pleasing and elevating to the worker. That is th<? natural result of all mechanical developments. . The establishment of industries to cater to the present luxurious tastes of the people gives much employment in cities”; and that is one of the reasons why we find congested populations in the capitals. Let me now say a word in reference to what I regard as a somewhat silly argument introduced this afternoon by the honorable member for Maranoa. He has two or three times’ applied offensive epithets to me, and he did so again to-day, in quoting a letter which I read to the Chamber in August last. It was from a reverend gentleman in Rushworth, who stated that twentyseven repatriated Australians had . been dumped in that township, and had to be fed by the residents. I well remember the effect of that letter upon the” members of the Labour Party. They rejoiced when it was made known to them by one in favour of immigration that employment could not be ‘found at once for these twenty-seven men. Their exultation was, however, groundless. The men had been dumped down in Rushworth,- and, of ..course, for the time being were a source of annoyance, because employment could not be found for them immediately. Every individual who comes to this country is a source of profit to those who live here. Instead of taking work from others, I believe that every immigrant provides more work for the population than he undertakes himself. There have been some bright pages in Australian history, and the brightest have been when population has been flocking into the country. There has been a bright page in the history of Western Australia of late years, because population has been flowing into that State. The dark pages in our history have been when immigration has ceased, and we have been left, to use a vulgar expression, “to stew in our own gravy.” The most empty page in. our history is the honorable member for Maranoa. I have not been able to determine the policy of the Labour Party in regard to immigration ; but it is evident from the speeches which have been made by. its members’ that the genuineness of their professed desire for immigration is very doubtful. I have come to the conclusion that, while some of them are prepared to say that they are in favour of immigration in the abstract, the policy of the party is to discourage immigration, apparently in the belief that,as we have a good thing in Australia, we should keep it for ourselves. That is not the policy which makes for progress and development, -although it is progress, development, and safety that we need. . There is safety in numbers, and if Australia is to become a white man’s country, we must fill it with white people.
.- When, in August last, thehonorable member for Echuca read the letter to which reference has been made, I suggested that a copy of it should be sent to Dr.Arthur. Probably, in the eyes of some,returned Australians are. not of so much account as new arrivals from oversea, born abroad.
– The honorablemember is an oversea-bred bird.
– I was born in Williamstown, Victoria,butI worked in England for Some years, and know that, while I was there, very few articles dealing with Australian affairs were publishedin the newspapers. Those which appeared were written by returned Australians or absentee land- owners, who, like the person referred to by the honorable member for Hindmarsh, decried Australia and denounced the party with whichI have the honour to be connected.
I think that the honorable member made a mistake in giving that person the advertisement which he did. He is unworthy of notice, and his statements are known to every Australian to be without foundation, while repliesmade to them will not! receive as much publicity in England as was given to his article. The party led by the honorable member for Echuca is always declaring that the Labour Party is prepared to block immigration.
– The members of the Labour Party show that by. their speeches and actions.
– Can the honorable member quote a speech in which objection has been raised to men coming to Australia to compete on equal terms with those already here?
– In the Trades Hall reports the honorable member will find many.
– I challenge the honorable member to produce one. We do not object tomen coming here to compete with our own people on equal terms; but we object to new-omers being placed on a better footing than those who are here. I have stated that on the public platform, in my electorate and elsewhere.
Mr. Kelly. How can new comers be placed on a better footing than those who are already here?
– I have known such peri sons, who, through being under contract, are guaranteed a week’s work of six days, at a time when Australians inthe same factory ororkshop were getting only three. Men who have learned their trade in Australia are entitled to as much consideration as is given to some who may be mere birds of passage.
– The honorable member firstontends that immigrants cannot get work when they come here, and then says that they should not getwork if they come.
– I have not said that. I have worked hard with persons who have come from abroad - real work, not the working of dodges, such as is practised by honorable members opposite.
– We are not railway signal men; we do not work points, as the honorable member suggests.
– I have always objected to men brought hereunder contract being placed in a better position than those already here.
– Then a contract is a good thing?
– No. Contracts make mengn away their liberty.
– I thought the honorable member said that the men under contract had the better position?
-Yes, for the time being ; but the contract system is in favour of theemployerclass,towhichmyhonorable friend belongs, whose members ride about in motor cars while those who make them have to walk, andmustdodgeout of the way pretty quickly to prevent themselves from being run over. Although honorable members demand immigration, for how many men could they guarantee work tomorrow? Work could not be foundin Victoria for fifty. .
– I can find work for fifty in one town.
– And I can. guarantee work for twenty.
– There are at present 2,000 unemployed at Broken Hill. What wages have honorable members to offer? I suppose they would displace other men to find employment at lower rates than are now being paid.
– No; good honest wages. for good honest work.
– One pound a week and find yourself.
– There is nothing like that in the Western District.
– What about stinking fish?
– I can smell it from the Labour corner. Unquestionably, Labour members are crying stinking fish in their remarksbout theland.
– The honorable member for Wentworth seems to.be well acquainted with stinking fish. . He is. a member of the “ stinking-fish party.” Some time ago the honorable member for Flinders, speaking at Nhill, showed that population is leaving the country, and going into the towns; that’, including Ballarat, Bendigo, and Geelong, the country lost 30,000 or 46,000’ in eight or ten years, while the city population increased by more . than that number. The honorable member, when he entered the Victorian AssemDly, was an advocate of a land tax, though I do not kno of what kind. Whatever may be the state of affairs in Queensland, much more than 3 per cent. of Victorian territory has been alienated. The Western District possesses (some of the best land in Australia, and some good mining country but if we ex cludethe population of itsfive seaports, its five mining and two inland towns, its country population has decreased by about 17,00 in twenty years. Recently’ there has been a slight increase, because of the mining development at Pitfield ; but, except for that, there has been a decrease. The honorable member for Wentworth stated that, by reason ofthe employment of machinery, fewer men are required.
– My remarks were not confined to Australia. That is the natural result of the employment of machinery everywhere.
– I admit that, because of the employment of machinery, fewer men are required in the country.
– To do a given amount of work.
– Yes. But in Victoria there are fewer holdings to-day than there were twenty years’ ago. The land is getting into fewer hands.
– I challenge that statement.
– It is wrong.
– The honorable member might have read that in a recent issue of the Argus. Yet. he was chairman of a meeting of the Employers’. Federation, which protested against the land tax. proposal’s of the Labour Party. He also introduced a deputation in regard to closer settlement. Mr. Murray was Minister of Lands, and Mr. Bent was present at the deputation. Upon that’ occasion the honorable member for Fawkner said that some very queer things had been done by the Lands Department in the past. Mr. . Bent repudiated that suggestion, and remarked, “ Perhaps the honorable member knows more about those things than I do.” In the same way I say that the honorable member may be more familiar with the “ crooked.” land transactions which have taken place in Victoria than is anybodyelse. The honorable member for Wentworth has declared that if he wanted to settle populationupon the land he would purchaseit at its market value and then re-sell it. What sort of a scheme is that?No person outside a lunaticasylum would advocate such a policy.
– As payfor what we get?
– Let us lease the land to the people.
– Uponperpetual lease.
The nationalization of , the land is part of
– I am in favour of a land tax such as the honorable member for Flinders supported ten years ago.
– I was in favour of a land tax without exemption, but the honorable member favours one with a big exemption.
– We shall see whether the honorable member is in favour of a land tax when the; question is brought forward. Perhaps he will be like some other honorable members opposite, who, to avoid voting upon certain questions, have conveniently left the Chamber when adivision was about to be taken. I know of one honorable member who, when a division was imminent last week, walked out of the House to avoid voting upon a certain proposal, although he was not paired.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Mr.
– If the advertising of our resources is to be conducted upon proper lines we must provide for opportunities for immigrants to settle in our midst. I am in favour of a land tax-
– Is the honorable member in favour of a Federal land tax in addition to the State land taxes?
– When such a proposal is submitted I shall be prepared to answer that question.
– What about “ dodgers “ ?
– Since I entered this House I have come into contact with a number of political dodgers, and perhaps I have learnt a thing or two. Some of them are. adepts at sitting upon a rail until they ascertain public opinion upon any matter. Then they conveniently flop down upon the popular side.
– That is not an answer to my question..
– I wonder whether the honorable member is in favour of a land tax to-day. I wonder whether he is in favour of levying such a tax for the purpose of compelling land-holders either to put their land to the best possible use or to allow others to do something with it?
– The honorable member desires to impose a land tax as a lever for confiscation.
– I do not regard a land tax as a lever for confiscation.I know that in the Western DistrictofVictoriamen are holding more than 100,000 acres of such good’ land that even the conservative
– If the honorable member’s party want the Western District of Victoria thrown open for settlement they had better pay honestly for it.
– The Labour Party are always -prepared to pay 20s. in the pound, and that is more than many of the landholders can say. In the particular district to which I have referred there is an area of about 4,000 square miles which is completely surrounded by railways, but. which, if we eliminate the people in the towns and mining centres, to-day carries a population of less than 8,000. A large quantity of it is contained in the electorate of Corangamite.
– In what part ?
– I am referring to that portion which is surrounded by the. railway which runs from Geelong to Koroit, from Koroit to Hamilton, from Hamilton to Ararat, and from Ararat to Geelong.The scheme outlined by the honorable member for Wentworth for the purchase of lands at market values for closer settlement would simply mean purchasing them at the enhanced values given to therm by the Closer Settlement Board. The creation of that Board was merely a scheme to increase the price of land.
– Proportionately, the price of land in Australia is not nearly as high as it is in New Zealand. .
– That may be due to a variety of reasons. The revenue received from land tax in New Zealand is greater than that received in Victoria. In this State. I know of a large area which for land taxation purposes was valued at only £1 per. acre, but for which the Metropolitan Board of Works paid £1710s.peracre.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.The honorable member must not discuss the question of land taxation in detail.
– I think that honorable members opposite have done their best to lead me off the track. New Zealand, where a land tax is in operation, receives a bigger proportion of immigrants than does any portion of Australia.
– New Zealand is spending £1,500,000 of borrowed money everyyear.
– There has been no borrowed money expended by the Commonwealth. The Labour Party effectually stopped that. The honorable member for Echuca has said that under the Trawool irrigation scheme a great number of persons would be settled in Victoria. He represents a lot of individuals who in the past have been able to get an irrigation scheme carried out for their benefit at the expense of the community. The people of Rodney - after they had obtained an irrigation scheme - conveniently forgot to pay for it.
– I should like to ask the honorable member if I ought not to be proud to represent the smartest people in Australia ?
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order; this is not question time.
– If the honorable member describes “ getting at “ the Government for £1,500,000 as “ smartness “ I may tell him that others call it by a different name. To take money out of the pockets of the whole of the people is as much robbery as is the act of taking it out of the pocket of an individual. This is the class of persons who talk about “ smartness,” and who denounce the Labour Party for advocating land taxation. I believe that the best way to advertise Australia is to provide those individuals who- are already settled here with constant work at good wages. That is how America has been advertised. If my honorable friends opposite had worked in America they would know that the best advertisers of that country are immigrants from Europe.
– They are returning to Europe now.
– Simply because a number of persons of my honorable friend’s’ class, who have been running the banks, insurance, and other companies, and pocketing all the profits, are causing a finanical depression there. If we wish to advertise Australia- we should find employment for the. men already here. We can best do so by mean’s of .a protective Tariff, so as to create employment^ and by making the land available for’ settlement for the persons who desire to use it. ‘In that way, we shall .do more to advertise Australia than we can hope to achieve by spending £20,000, £30,000, or even £200,000 in the direction proposed by the Government.
.- We have heard a lot to-night about the stinking fish party, and it seems to me that those who tell us that Canada, New Zealand, and America offer more ‘ attractions than does Australia have earned the right to have that epithet applied to them. The honorable member for Grey has told us that people are leaving Australia for New Zealand. What are the actual facts? The honorable member for North Sydney has placed in my hands a statement as to the number of persons who have left Australia for New Zealand and those who have left New Zealand for Australia during the last two years. In 1906, 22,198 came here from- New Zealand, and 22,426 left. Australia for New. Zealand, leaving a balance of about 220 in favour of the Dominion. In 1907, however, 27,425 came here from New Zealand and only 24,292 left Australia for that country, so that we had a” credit balance of about 3,000. These’ figures do not wholly support the contention that New Zealand holds out to the1 settler a special promise of success. The honorable member for Yarra, states that there is no land available in Victoria. He appears to desire to apply that statement to the whole Commonwealth. Tt is true that he admitted that he was familiar only with the conditions prevailing in this’ State-
– I said that T was more familiar with the conditions obtaining- in this State than with those in the rest of the Commonwealth.
– I have nothing to say against .the picture which the honorable member has drawn of land tenure in Victoria, but would remind him that this State is a very small spot on the Australian map.. I think that what I can say with regard to the opportunities for settlement in Oueensland will apply with equal force to Western Australian and South Australia. In Queensland we have plenty of land that, has not been alienated and is available for closer settlement.
– It cannot be any good.
– Within the last few years, more particularly, ‘ the Queensland Government have realized the possibilities and their responsibilities in this respect, and have set to work to make available the land for the people. It has seriously set itself to the task of opening up tracts of country which are under the control of the Crown. To point that remark I wouldmention that four or five years ago there was no work for surveyors in Oueensland, but that during the last few years - since- the breaking of the drought of 1902-the Lands . Department ofQueensland have found it impossible to obtain surveyors in sufficient numbers to do the work before it. Applicationafter application for areas to be thrown open, not in the arid west, but on the coast, is met with the reply that the Department cannot obtain surveyors to make the necessary surveys.
– Why not allow the people to settle on the land and carry out the surveys later on?
– In Canada, thousands of square miles were hurriedly surveyed under contract. The surveyors, however, made some slight mistakewith the result that very often a man found that he had built his barn on his neighbour’s land.
– But an Act was passed which enabled them to get over that difficulty.
– That is so. The honorable member may know . something of land settlement, but-
– I have been, to my regret, a free selector.
– The honorable member must recognise that the arrangement he suggests would lead toall sorts of difficulties. It has been stated, over and over again, that only between 3 per cent. and 4 per cent. of the land of Queensland has been alienated. I think I heard the honorable member for Barrier interject that the land not alienated from the Crown cannot be of any value; otherwise it would have been taken up long ago.
– Nearly all the land in Queensland is leased for long terms.
Mr.ARCHER. - That is true to a limited extent, but leases of land all along the coast are rapidly falling in. In the Port Curtis district, whereI live, no new leases or renewals are being issued in respectof land suitable for closer settlement; and this applies generally. The Government are now constructing a railway in the Boyne -Valley, where most of the land is held under leases, having some twelve or fifteen years to run. That land, however, is being resumed by the Crown, trifling compensation being paid for thebreaking of the leases. In other districts further -up the coast some of the best land for farming is not leased. In some cases areas are held under leases which have only a few years to run, and in no case where the land is suitable for close settlement arethere leases having a longer currency than ten or fifteen years. . The land to which they relate can be. resumed and. compensation paid. The primary reason why closer settlement in Queens- land has not been more rapid and has not, been provided for by past Governments to any great extent, isthat until within the last ten years we have not had. the advantage of the application of refrigeration to dairy produce. In other words the dairying industry which is responsible to-day for the settling of, Queensland - and the same remark will apply to other States - has been confined to local markets. The application of refrigeration to the handling of our perishable products has simply revolutionized closer settlement in Australia. The Queensland Government are meeting thechanged conditions by extending their railway system as rapidly as possible. Preparations are now being made for the construction of some fifteen lines, which will open up large areas for closer settlement. Very few of them will run through land that will have to be repurchased. We have been told that land cannot be obtained on the Darling; Downs. It must be remembered, however, that that was the first part of Queensland to be taken up. It was settled, possibly, sixty years ago when no one could foresee what was likely to happen, and all the land was allowed to be alienated. Since then, however, it has been cut up, and is now. entirely in occupation. We have in Queensland a Compulsory Purchase Act, and only last year the Government expended £500,000 in the repurchase of estates.
– I thought that there was plenty of unalienated land suitable for settlement ?
– So there is; but the Government have seen fit to buy land alienated for the last forty years, through which a main line of railway runs. This is the land which our friend’s from Victoria and New South Wales have taken up after doing very well in those States. Those who have left New. South Wales for Queensland in many cases timber getters, who took up land on the north coast rivers, and, having been able to sell it at from £20 to £30 per acre, went to Queensland, where they could obtain equally good land forfrom £2 to £5 an acre. That is about the price of the most expensive of the repurchased estates. As a matter of fact there are in
Queensland vast areas that have not been alienated with leases expired or expiring and which have not been settled for the reasonsI have given. But we have now set to work in earnest. Whereas in the old days the Government waited for a district to be settled before they thought of opening it up by means of a railway, they axe now adopting the practice of Canada, and the United States, and are recognising the advisableness of opening up suitable districts by means of railway communication, and making them attractive to the people, and not waiting for settlement to precede means of communication. As soon as they carry out that policy, there will be vast areas of land available for closer settlement. The repurchase of estates is a mere bagatelle, and can easily be done.
– So that the story that Queensland has no land available for settlement is ridiculous?
– It is absolutely fallacious. We have in Australia vast areas suitable for settlement, and it only remains for the States to open them up by means of railways. I have no desire to hurl objectionable epithets at any party, but any section which maintains the cry that there is no land available for settlement here is running down Australia without just cause. The matter is in our own hands. Victoria is settled, but because there are in this State large estates, which the Government have not seen fit to repurchase, or which have acquired such high values as to render their repurchase difficult, it is not to be said that Australia generally is in the same position. I recognise that in seeking to attract immigrants to Australia the Commonwealth must work with the States. If the Federal machine is to run smoothly it is desirable that we should work in harmony with the States. The Federal Government must have some consideration for the feelings, so to speak, of the States. They have had to hand over to the Commonwealth authority various powers and functions to which they do not object, but the Federal authority shows an inclination to grasp all that it can get. In order that the Federation may work smoothly . we should avoid carelessly irritating the States in any degree. I suppose that if there is any obstruction on the part of the States to legitimate demands, the Commonwealth must take a firm stand, but it is inevitable that the States should display some feeling when the two powers come into conflict, and an uncompromising spirit is exhibited. Even in the absence of the co-operation of the States, the Commonwealth Government can- do a great deal in the way of advertising our resources in the Old Country. It. is because of the possibilities in that direction, amongst others, that I think we should appoint a High Commissioner as soon as possible. I know what the Canadian Government and the Canadian Pacific Railway have done in the way of advertising Canada in Great Britain. There are certain ways in which the Government might move in the direction of encouraging immigration ; and while I am not in favour of indiscriminate immigration, I say that we could absorb any ablebodied, sober, steady men. The cry about supplying immigrants with land at once is utterly fallacious, because no man new to the country can go straight on to the land on his own account without courting almost certain hardship and ruin. In Queensland, the land is being thrown open to settlement as quickly as possible ; but we ought to realize that closer settlement has only commenced in the bigger spaces of Australia. Any able-bodied agricultural or other labourer, after two or three years of local experience will be qualified to take up land; but it is sheer cruelty - and I speak from personal knowledge - to dump down, even an English farmer on the land inAustralia before he has become familiar with the conditions of the country. In the case of Canada, it is the common practice for a farmer, when he intendsto settle there, to send out his sonsto work for a year or two to spy out the land and acquire experience, and then to follow them; and any assistance in attracting that class of settler would be most valuable. But that is not the only class of immigrants’ whom we have to consider. We desire to have men here who, though Without means, depend on their’ own brain and muscle in order to make their way ; and there should be provision for these men when they arrive. It is therefore very important to get into touch with people who desire the servicesofimmigrants. We are told that there is already surplus labour in Australia, and that work for 100 additional men could not be found in centralQueensland. That, however, is not so; and we must remember that therewill always be unemployed in the towns. Inthe big cities, I am afraid, therewill always bepovertyand distress and unemployables until the millenniumor the socialistic State arrives, when, I suppose, those will be made to work. But I know that in the moderate-sized towns - not manufacturing towns - of central and northern Queensland there are numbers of young men who will not go into the country to work. In north Queensland, just now, owing to the low price of copper and other minerals, numbers of men, who have hitherto worked small “shows” of their own, have found employment on the land; while others are looking for work. But that, I contend, is no argument against an immigration policy. If such arguments are acted upon, we shall never people Australia or keep it a white man’s country. We shall never be free from fluctuation in employment, from temporary overpluses in different directions.
– The honorable member apparently argues that a surplus of labour means, at the same time, a scarcity of labour.
– I do not say that. All I contend is that, for instance, a temporary failure in one industry, such as I have mentioned, may cause a surplus of labour, but that such surplus is no argument against an immigration policy. The fact is that, when there is a surplus of labour in the towns, the men there will not go on to the land, and would not be able to do anything with it if they did. I have addressed myself broadly to the question, with special reference to Queensland. I know that it has been difficult to get land in suitable locations in Queensland, just as in other parts of Australia; but those days are passing away. Even the ‘ alienated lands along the railways, like those on the Darling Downs, are being broken up ‘and absorbed ; and I know that the Queensland Government will even more rapidly push railways into districts where there are thousands of acres available for settlement. .Some of this land is under lease, but no new leases are being issued. The leases in existence will fall in during the next ten years or so ; and those men who are coming to Australia now, and obtaining experience, will become settlers during the next few years.
– Have lessees not a preferential right to the land when the leases fall in?
– Despite the inference drawn by the honorable member.- for Echuca that a section of the House is opposed o immigration of any kind, I am sure that all sensible Australians recognise that an important factor in our wealth and prosperity is population, and that, at our present stage of internal development, the country cannot assume its rightful position unless we resort largely to immigration. The difference between the two sides of the House on this question may, I think, be easily summed up. Honorable members who, like myself, belong to the Labour Party, desire to see a healthy population of energetic go-ahead people who will help to build up and develop the industries of the country. In order to get that population certain facilities and inducements must be offered, or, as in the past, people from outside will refuse to throw in their lot with us. On the other hand, there are other honorable members who seem to look at the question from the stand-point that the conditions here are all right and cannot be improved very materially - that all that is required is an increased supply of labour by means of a large influx of people. Those honorable members look to that supply being kept up to such an extent that the country will be called upon to establish soup kitchens and labour bureaux in order to support the labourers during the slack times, so that they may be readily available at the lowest cost in the busy times. I say unhesitatingly that I am not prepared to lend myself to introducing labour from the Old Country under false pretences.
– Nobody proposes that.
– If the honorable member will read some of the literature circulated by the Immigration Leagues here, notably, the league presided over by Dr. Arthur in New South Wales, and even much of the ‘literature fathered by our States Governments in the Old Country, he can come to no other conclusion than that the grossest misrepresentations are being circulated in order to attract a particular class of immigrants.
– We require some means of placing the facts before the public, and then allowing the immigrants to take the risk.
– I am with, the honorable member in that, but I think we should do something more. We ought to improve the conditions in Australia, so as to “make the prospects of the immigrants brighter. While the Federal Government may do something in the way of advertising Australia, it can do very little in the direction of encouraging and retaining immigrants without the assistance of the States Governments, and, so far, the States Governments have shown very little disposition to co-operate with the Federal authority in attracting the right classes. Some of the States Governments have endeavoured to secure an influx of manual labourers, quite regardless of the fact that the native population is leaving because of their being unable, under present conditions, to retain what they themselves produce. Under such conditions, we can only hope for the very lowest class of labour in our immigrants, because any man with energy and push, desiring to make the best of his life, will not rest satisfied. If we really desire to increase our population, we must set ourselves the stern task of improving our social and industrial conditions, in order, first of all, to retain our native born, and next to attract desirable immigrants. This is an object we have not Been able to attain up to the present time, because the immigration is practically counterbalanced by the emigration, the net improvement being very small over a given number of years. The honorable member for Capricornia quoted, amid some approval from honorable members near him, certain figures comparing the additions to population in New Zealand and in the Commonwealth during the last couple of years. But I think the honorable member should have extended the comparison further back, because if we take the seven years of Federation, we find that New Zealand has by immigration added 48,000 to her population, while the Commonwealth has added only something like 6,000. The time was when New Zealand was considered a bankrupt dependency of the Empire, and one of the least desirableplaces for emigrants to go to; but the legislation introduced by those eminent statesmen, Mr. Ballance and the Right Honorable Richard Seddon, completely altered the position of affairs, so that the Dominion is now the most inviting country in the Southern Hemisphere. Until we put an end to the exodus from our own shores, it will be useless to try to attract people from the United Kingdom. We must first make sure of retaining our own population. When we have done that, our conditions will prove attractive to others abroad. The honorable member for Yarra, when he referred to the. land monopoly which exists, particularly in the older settled States, mentioned the chief cause for the decrease in our population, and its undesirable and unhealthy concentration in the large centres. Official statistics show that of 700,000 adult voters in New South Wales, about 1 , coo own half of “the alienated land of the State, and about 3,000 half of its accumulated wealth. Its land is divided amongst 170,000 or 180,000 persons, and its accumulated wealth between about 200,000 persons, so that about 500,000 are landless and without wealth. Until something is done to make the land available, our population must decrease year by year. The honorable member for Wentworth attributed the flow of population to the cities to the increased efficiency of agricultural machinery. I do not think that that is the true explanation!. The last redistribution of seats gave New South Wales another representative at the expense of Victoria; but in rearranging the elec toral divisions of the State the country divisions were reduced by one, another evidence of the drift of population to which I refer. Those who know the conditions under which people reside in the cities are aware how unhealthy a sign it is when the population is drifting there from the country. We are told authoritatively that in Sydney 1,000 women and children work for from 5s. to nothing a week. Many young girls employed in shops and factories are content to give their services for nothing, merely to learn a trade or business. Last session a proposal was brought forward in the State Parliament for preventing the payment of a lower wage than 2s. 6d. per week. We find, too, that men employed in responsible positions, handling large sums of money, receive only from 30s. to £2 a week, while the remuneration generally of those earning weekly wages is not sufficiently high to offer an inducement to men who are not forced to leave the country to goto the cities.
– These statements, when cabled Home, will not induce people to come here.
– They are true, and if the present state of things can be altered only by telling the truth, the truth must be told. I have just returned from my electorate, where I learnt something about the methods obtaining in regard to State immigration. The New South WalesGoverninent, to provide occupation for the small number of immigrants coming to the State, pays the police ros. for . every man -for whom they find a position, and’, as a result, men who have been employed for . years are often dismissed, immigrants’ being taken on in their stead at lower rates, the’ policemen -receiving ios. for finding one’man a billet at the expense of another. If, as is often the case, the immigrant proves inefficient, he is dispensed with, .and sometimes the former employ6 is reinstated. ‘ Then I was told that recently, when a party of immigrants, used to town conditions, undertook to engage in scrub-cutting, they were driven out to the scrub on a distant station, and their provisions and tents having been unloaded, were left entirely to their own resources. That is treatment to which , the Australian bushman is accustomed ; but these unfortunates did not know how to rig. a tent, how to kill a sheep, or how to cook the provisions supplied to them, and when they found a snake, they were so scared by the stories which they had heard, that they all cleared out. In another case a couple of immigrants were engaged to go into the country to a place where they were told they would receive a certain wage, but, ort arrival, the station proprietor said that he could not pay the wage, and therefore they had to accept less. They were housed, according to their own statement, with a lot of dogs, . being, I presume, sent to a shed in which dogs were tied. up. This was too much for them, and they left, carrying their boxes some 12 miles. These men have friends in the Old Country to whom they will write, and their stories will do more to prevent emigration here than our advertising can do to encourage it. Canada and the United States, on the other hand, treat their immigrants in such a fashion that good reports are sent Home, and their friends come out to assist in the- work of developing the country.’ Australia needs development, but we must make the condition of our people such that they will stay here, and others will be tempted to come. To bring out paupers to create a labour surplus, so that the screw can be turned 011 our labourers, will not advance the best interests of Australia. Those who face the problem in an endeavour to solve it are the -best friends of the Commonwealth, and the jibe that they belong to the “stinking-fish party’.’ does not apply. It -is those who discredit the country who really belong to the “ stinking fish party.” I regret to- say that included in this class are men who- came - here with -nothing and who have acquired a -good- -deal of this world’s substance, and who consequently owe a great debt of gratitude to Australia. T should like to learn from the Prime Minister how much of -the £20,000 proposed to be voted for advertising the resources of the ‘ Commonwealth has been expended.
– Fifteen hundred pounds.
– That being so, how does the Prime Minister propose to expend the balance in the few months of the financial year that remains?
– Only part of- it.
– Then what is the- use of putting it upon the Estimates merely as a placard?
– It was put upon the Estimates twelve months ago, and was then intended to be spent. But if this sort of talk continues we shall never get the Estimates passed.
– I recognise that there has” been a delay in dealing with the Estimates for the current financial year - a delay for which this House is not responsible. The Government thought fit to introduce a new Tariff, and in the interests of the general community it was deemed desirable to dispose of that Tariff as soon as possible. I do hope that no money appropriated for advertising the resources of the Commonwealth will be placed at the disposal of such organizations as that which is controlled by Dr. Arthur, which do considerable damage to Australia. I trust that when next year’s Estimates are under consideration the Prime Minister will be able to submit a clear cut immigration scheme to the Committee, and will be in a position to say whether the States are prepared to co-operate with him in. giving effect to it. If they are not, any expenditure in this direction will simply represent a waste of money.
.- I am very pleased to note the amount of newborn zeal which has been exhibited to-night on the question of immigration. It will provide very interesting reading for the country. Perhaps it is merely a coincidence that the second item in this division seeks to appropriate £900 with which to pav the Customs Department for the services of officers under the Immigration RestrictionAct.
– In order that we may get desirables, we must exclude undesirables.
– I recognise that, but, unfortunately, the statement has been published’ to the world that we do not want desirable immigrants, and it is’ necessary that that statement; should be refuted. From my Own experience I know that quite a number of desirable immigrants have been impressed with the idea that their presence is not wanted in the Commonwealth. Tonight the honorable member for Hindmarsh mentioned that in his State there are thousands of willing artisans who are unemployed. The very reverse is the case in Queensland. Quite a number of employers there, who have been offering as much as 12s. per day for carpenters, cannot obtain them, notwithstanding that they were willing to provide them with permanent employment. It is also very difficult to secure engineers and other mechanics, whilst it is simply impossible to obtain farm hands.
– How much are the canecutters in that State being paid ?
– Three shillings and fourpence per ton. Some of them earn as much as £5 per week.
– They get 22s. 6d. per week and rations.
– One honorable member in the Labour corner declared that land was unobtainable in Queensland especially upon the Darling Downs. I find that the Queensland Minister of Lands has reported that during 1906-7, 180,000 acres were made available for selection upon the Downs. In Queensland there are 260,000,000 acres of land available for settlement.
– Some of it is very prime land, too - that which is infested with prickly pear, for instance.
– But there is a very large quantity of good land. I am satisfied that during the next ten years Queensland can absorb as many persons as choose to make their way there, and that she can settle them upon land equal to any in Australia, the fee simple of which can be purchased at a very moderate price. I wish also to point out that a very good opportunity now presents itself for advertising our resources. Quite a number of persons will be visiting the forthcoming exhibition in London”, and if the Government will make it possible for them to take literature for distribution–
– We are doing that. The Government Statistician is engaged upon the preparation of a large work, and we are also having a small compendium printed.
– I am glad to have that assurance. I should like to obtain some information from the Prime Min ister regarding the annual payment of £200 to the International Agricultural Institute at Rome. Nobody appears to know what this Institute is doing, or what benefits we are deriving from it. An explanation by the Prime Minister will perhaps remove the suspicion that money is being frittered away merely to put ourselves on a par with other countries.
– Iam happy to inform the honorable member that for a very small expenditure we hope to obtain very great advantages. A Conference, at which almost all the civilized countries in the world were represented, was held in 1905, and it was decided to establish at Rome an Agricultural Institute whose operations should be international. The King of Italy has arranged to present to it the revenue of two domains estimated to produce an annual income of £12,000. Every country is subscribing towards its maintenance.
– Will the Conference meet annually?
– It will meet only at intervals. The object of the meeting at this time is to lay down the system and method on which information is to be supplied to and by every country in regard to certain products, and the seasons at which they are available. The desire is through this central institute to make known to all the world where certain crops are in excess and where they are in a deficiency, in. order that a more even scale of prices may obtain, and interested persons may not be able to take advantage of their special knowledge. The advantages likely to be derived from the establishment of the institute are the furnishing of agriculturists with prompt and reliable information on matters of interest concerning various markets; the collection of such information over a large area and on uniform lines ; improvements of methods of production; suggestions to Governments in the general interests of agriculture forming the basis of international agreement; and ready sources of information for Agricultural Departments respecting agricultural conditions. It is one of those unions designed to place the agriculturists of the world in touch with each other; to enable them to compare their systems, to share their knowledge, and to use it for their mutual protection against market operations which sometimes affect them very seriously.
– This is an annual contribution ?
– It is. The Conference rs ‘ to meet for the purpose of determining the particulars to be obtained from each country, and to provide a ready means of communication.
– Shall we be commited to the scheme by voting, this amount ?
– There is power of withdrawal. The United States are taking a most active part in this scheme, believing that it will serve a most useful purpose. When in London I met one of the leading agricultural authorities of the United States, who spoke in the warmest terms of this enterprise, and assured me that the conviction of the authorities in. his country is that the institute is going to prove of the greatest value.
.- As there seems to be some doubt as to the area of land available for settlement in Australia, I should like to assure honorable members that in Western Australia, at all events, vast tracts of country are available. There is, for instance, an area stretching, say from Albany to Geraldton, 600 miles long and probably 300 miles in width. Railways are being carried into it, and the country is being rapidly settled. There can be seen some of the finest crops that are raised in Australia. Since I first went to Western Australia settlement there has made enormous strides. Northam at one time was the chief centre of cereal production in the west ; but farming operations have since extended for no less than 150 miles due east towards the gold-fields. The facilities for acquiring land in Western Australia are all that the people could desire. The Agricultural Bank- makes advances to settlers in respect of any work done by them on their land. If they build a house, they receive assistance, and they are also Helped to fence and clear their holdings. I do not know of any State where the facilities for settlement are so satisfactory.
– And the land can be obtained for practically nothing.
– The Government offer intending settlers holdings of 160 acres for practically nothing. _ If a man wishes to commence operations on a larger scale, he may take up 2,000 acres, and also 1,500 acres on behalf of his wife. No doubt, in time to come, the cry for closer settlement, now heard so frequently in the east, will be heard in Western Aus tralia. I would remind honorable members that those who want land need not go even so far as Western Australia for it.” Within the last fortnight, at the Mount Barker Agricultural Society’s Show, I saw exhibited by the Agricultural Department of South Australia a very fine sample of grain grown in the Pinaroo and other districts, where there is an average rainfall of only 8 inches. This wheat was grown on land which no one would have looked at five or six years ago. Had we been told a few years ago that it was capable of producing wheat of such fine quality, we should not have treated the statement seriously. Another large area of land, stretching from Port Lincoln in a northerly and north-westerly direction, was at one time looked upon as a desert, but it has been opened up by a line of railway 40 miles in length, which the Government propose to extend by another’ 40 miles. Less than ten years ago, that country was regarded as useless, but settlers there are now doing well by wheat-growing. It has been clearly proved that wheat can be grown on all areas which enjoy the winter rains, or, in other words, districts where the rain falls at the right time for cereal crops. When we reach the tropical areas, good crops cannot be relied upon, but there ate in South Australia, as well as in Western Australia, vast areas of wheat-growing country that have not been opened up.. It only, remains for men with pluck, who are willing to work and to rough it, to take action. We certainly do not want to settle on the land men such as those we often see hanging about the street corners here. I have often looked at them, and would be afraid to mention within their hearing . that I was in search of labourers. Such men will not leave town to obtain employment, because they will not go far away from an hotel. An expenditure of £20,000 will not be nearly sufficient for this work. We shall have to expend something like £200,000 in inducing people to come to the country.
– If the honorable member voices such extravagant ideas, he cannot hope to secure the transcontinental railway.
– If, instead of decrying our country, we spent money in inducing people to come here, we should have no difficulty in finding money for railway construction purposes. If the line to which the honorable member refers is constructed, we shall be able to settle 1,000,000 people along it. I, for one, am not surprised that agents from the Western State are here in the east. Many people in the eastern States are entirely ignorant of the conditions prevailing in the west. I have been asked here whether Western Australia is not a sandy desert, whether wheat can be grown there, and whether it is possible to grow oats- If the people now in Australia wish to hold the country, they must be ready to recognise that we have plenty of room for all who choose to come here. It is idle to assert that there is no land available for settlement. There are large areas available where the Murray flows. Can we not lock our big rivers, and, by means of irrigation, put to good use much of the land that now remains idle? The interior of Australia is like a big saucer. It is eminently suited for the conservation of water, and we need to send out something like 100 engineersto fake the levels of the country and prepare a contour map, so that we may see what parts are suitable for irrigation.
– That work has been done in New South . Wales, which comprises a large slice of the lands of Australia suitable for irrigation.
– That may be. But we need to have prepared a map showing, for instance, the fall of the river Murray from its source to its mouth.
– Would the honorable member advocate that work being done by the Commonwealth?
– Some one ought to take it in hand. I recognise that the Federal Government has not at present any land to offer intending immigrants. At the same time, we have the right to attract people to Australia. We represent the States, and it is for the benefit of the States that we desire to encourage immigration. We certainly cannot improve the position of the Commonwealth by crying “ stinking fish.” The land is not locked up. Many sheep stations that are now being cut up and sold at from £5 to £7 per acre have had expended upon them more than £7 or £8 per acre in respect of ringing, clearing, scrubbing, and fencing.
– To run sheep on?
– To bring them to their present condition. If we look at a block of the forest country adjoining, we can see what labour was required to clear the land.
-Was it done for the purposes of raising sheep?
-It was done by some one, and the cost may have been paid out of the profits of selling wool. A settler is better off by purchasing the cleared land at the price put upon it than he would be if he had been turned loose on it in its virgin state.
– Give me the virgin soil!
– On the huge plains of Queensland, where there is not much timber, the honorable member would be all right, but ordinary scrub country costs much to clear.
– People do not clear country to run sheep.
– They do. I can assure the honorable member that ring-barking, scrubbing, and so forth probably occupies ten years, so that the country may be made sweet to carry stock. Any man with pluck who can buy grazing land up to £10 an acre in this country can make a fortune. There is no hardship in paying a reasonable price for land in a good district, and there is no harm in either the States Government or the Federal Government purchasing estates in order to sell the land to settlers. There is the value for money paid, and one way to encourage immigration would be to impress on immigrants that if they purchase the land at the price asked they have a good bargain. I impress on honorable members that, if they know anybody who requires land, they should send him to Western Australia, where very large areas are available.
.- This afternoon I mentioned that the whole of Australia had last year spent not more than £50,000 on immigration. I had not the details before me then, but I have since looked the matter up, and I find that the latest statistics support my statement. During 1906-7, New South Wales spent £17,000, Queensland spent £10,000 - of which something like £3,000 was refunded by the immigrants themselves - and the Commonwealth proposes to spend £20,000. This makes £43,000, and substantially supports what I said. I understand that the Queensland Governmentthis year are spending considerably more than in any previous year, and probably that was what was in the mind of the Prime Minister.
– I do not know how long the Prime. Minister intends to continue this sitting.
– This is the fourth night of thedebate on this one Department of the Estimates.
Mr.JOSEPH COOK.- I do not know that that is too long, seeing that in all probability one or two of the Departments which follow will he disposed of very rapidly. In any case, I regard the Department before us as one of the most important in the Estimates; it covers the widest range of subjects, and opens up more debatable matter than any other. I think that before this large sum of money is voted - not large in relation to the object in view, but large in itself- we should have from the Prime Minister a full scheme of immigration, either with or without the co-operation of the State. I understand the Prime Minister is waiting for the States to furnish him with some information.
– Yes, as to their part of the scheme.
– The Prime Minister has made many efforts to get the States to do something, and it is time he told us what the States intend to do, and what he intends to do irrespective of the States.
– The Prime Minister last night promised to make a definite statement as to what the Commonwealth intends to do.
– Yes, on the next Estimates. As I have said, I have only definite replies from two of the States.
– And we are asked to vote £20,000 in the absence of any scheme.
– I have already said that we cannot expend more than one-fourth of theamount this year.
– Then why does the Prime Minister not move that the item be reduced by £15,000?
– Because, as I have already said, such action might be misinterpreted.
– I do not think so, particularly if the Prime Minister makes the promised statement to the Committee.
– There would be no gain in reducing the item.
– But on principle we have no right to vote money there is no reasonable prospect of spending That is a “ placard,” with a vengeance !
– It would be a placard if the item were reduced now.
– In my opinion, it is a vicious principle to vote more money than we think is going to be spent. I understand the Government have power to appropriate this vote to any other purpose - that they have power to transfer the ex-: penditure to some purpose that has no relation whatever to immigration. I suggest that progress be reported now, and that the Prime Minister to-morrow make a statement before the division is passed.
– It will not be the statement about which the honorable member has been speaking. I am prepared to make a statement which I commenced to make yesterday, or the day before, when we were dealing with the first item.
– At any rate, I suggest that progress be reported now.
– I take it that that means the honorable member will assist me in bringing this discussion to an early conclusion ?
– I shall do my best ; though I think this is one of the most important Departments with which we have to deal.
.- I move -
That the House do now adjourn.
I take no exception, and have not done so, to the extension of the debate on the Estimates of the Department) of External Affairs. I recognise that the subject under discussion is of immense importance and branches out inevitably into a number of urgent public questions. At the same time, I remind honorable members that if there is any idea of closing this session, and taking a recess before commencing the work of the new financial year–
– Is that the intention of the Government?
– As I have said from the first, while perfectly willing to have a recess, it is on condition that we have disposed of the Tariff and other necessary business.
-“ Other necessary business.”
– Yes ; and of that necessary business there need not be a long list. Unless we dispose of the Estimates as a Whole more rapidly than we are disposing of those of the particular Department now under discussion, it will be clearly impossible to conclude the session as early as anticipated. I shall not complain, however, though I should regret the factfor other reasons and for other members. I am perfectly willing to proceed so long as honorable members think fit. But, having regard to the magnitude of. the measures to be submitted, and the importance of the issues with which they will deal, I dare say we shall face them better after a short recess than if we prolong the present session. On the other hand, we have enjoyed a much longer Christmas adjournment than that of the Senate, and the Government itself is prepared to go on as long as is desirable in the interests of public business.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 10.56 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 25 March 1908, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1908/19080325_reps_3_44/>.